County Executive Brian M. Hughes, left, accepts a donation from Dorothy Katz, center, along with, from left, Martha McDougald and Jan Curran, donor advisers; Christine Cardinal, Equestrian Center director and Chad Ripberger, 4-H director.Full size photo

County Executive Brian M. Hughes, left, accepts a donation from Dorothy Katz, center, along with, from left, Martha McDougald and Jan Curran, donor advisers; Christine Cardinal, Equestrian Center director and Chad Ripberger, 4-H director.

Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

Contribution will benefit equestrian program for urban youth

TRENTON, N.J. -More than 130 youngsters from Mercer County will be treated to lessons from the saddle this year because of the generosity of the Dorothy E. Katz Reading & Recreation Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, announced Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. Katz presented Hughes with a check for $5,390 today at the Mercer County Equestrian Center in Hopewell Township, where children who might not have a chance to ride a horse will have an opportunity to do so. Hughes thanked Katz for her renowned generosity for Mercer County's equestrian programs that benefit Trenton-area children, and for all of the other projects funded by the Dorothy E. Katz Reading & Recreation Fund.

"Dorothy is an example to us all, that a community can be strengthened if we just reach out and lend whatever our special talents to those who might benefit. Dorothy has made the lives of thousands of children brighter because of her work and the work of the committed volunteers who follow her lead."

Indeed, thousands of children have benefited from the fund, and scores of children, ages 7-15, have participated in the equestrian programs and camps at the Mercer County Equestrian Center as a result of the Dorothy E. Katz Reading & Recreation Fund.

The program isn't just a riding lesson, explained Christine Cardinal, director of Mercer County Equestrian Center. At the core, the Horses and Youth Program (HAY) and other Mercer County 4-H programs, are self-esteem and confidence-builders. Each child gets a copy of the children's book, "Misty of Chincoteague,'' and learns about the anatomy of the horse, how to clean, feed and tack a horse and eventually how to ride a horse. The camp session conclude with a horse show. Many of the youngsters are meeting a horse for the first time and are understandably skittish, said Cardinal. But by the end of the camp session, the children are confident with their new skills, and that confidence carries over into so many other areas of their lives, she added.

Under Hughes' leadership, Mercer County launched the HAY program in 2005. HAY, a collaboration of Mercer County 4-H and the Mercer County Equestrian Center, provides urban youth with lessons in life and horsemanship. The program is given over a six-week period during the spring and fall semesters, with a one-week day camp during the summer and four trips to the equestrian center as part of the new Mercer County 4-H Afterschool Adventure summer camps for city youth. All children who participate in the HAY programs come from after-school or summer sites sponsored by the City of Trenton Department of Recreation, Natural Resources and Culture; Boys and Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County; and Mercer County 4-H.

Contributions to The Dorothy E. Katz Reading and Recreation Fund of Hopewell Valley can be made by check, payable to the Princeton Area Community Foundation with "DEKRR" in the memo line, and mailed to PACF 15, Princess Road, Lawrence, NJ 08648.