Farm Volunteers

Our equine facility is unique in that it is completely run by students! Marci Crosby, faculty in the Division of Animal Sciences, is the facility supervisor. The rest of our work force is comprised of students. Natalie Duncan, graduate student in nutrition, is our facility manager. The rest of our crew is made up of our assistant manager(s), volunteers and work study students. Each year, we hire one or two of our senior volunteers or staff members that have shown significant contributions to our program and ask them to serve as assistant managers.

In conjunction with our teaching mission, the MU Equine Teaching facility developed this program to provide opportunities for students to interact with our horse herd and learn about day-to-day care of our horses. The MU Horse Farm Volunteer program and Equine Practicum course is available during the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. All new feeders at the Equine Teaching Facility are required to participate in the Equine Practicum course their first semester (although summer feeders can opt out). All returning feeders have the option of participating in this class or they may continue as a Horse Farm Volunteer.

This is a wonderful opportunity for students to gain experience in horse care and general maintenance, or for students to get their “horse fix” while hanging out with friends. Volunteer work can be used as a reference on future resumes and applications as equine experience. All are welcome and no experience is required. Feeders are always scheduled in groups, so there is never only one person at the barn. Besides taking care of daily feeding, turn-out, and grooming, volunteers are notified of veterinary and farrier appointments and are encouraged to attend. We also offer volunteer education days throughout the semester and encourage participation in these to gain advanced skills! CAFNR news article on the Equine Program and specifically the Sorenson equine area.

See CAFNR News article about Sorenson Estate: Two Ways to Learn

To enroll in the equine practicum or to be eligible to volunteer you must fill out our application by the appropriate deadline. To get the application simply e-mail Marci J. Crosby at Applications for the spring semester are due in early December, while applications for the summer and fall semesters are due in early May.

What is expected?

  • Attend mandatory orientation before semester begins
  • Feed horses once or twice a week during feeding times (times based on your availability)
  • Attend monthly barn meetings and educational opportunities
  • During feed shifts, you will be responsible for:
    • Feeding grain and hay as directed
    • Turn horses out and clean stalls
    • Monitor health of all horses
    • Help keep facilities clean
    • Groom horses as needed

Throughout this program, you will find that the more time you commit and extra events you attend the greater your learning experience will be!

What Do You Get in Return?

  • Volunteer experience for your resume.
  • A better understanding of horse care, and the ability to further your equine skills.
  • Horse Farm Volunteer T-Shirt (to be designed by YOU).
  • Have FUN, enjoy horses, and meet new friends!
  • If you only attend feeding shifts, you will gain experience in feeding, cleaning, and monitoring horses, and turning out and grooming horses as needed.
  • To gain more advanced knowledge in medical procedures and to gain one-on-one instruction in horse handling you MUST attend appointments and monthly Volunteer Education Days. These opportunities are announced with as much notice as possible, and are completely optional. If you take advantage of these opportunities you will learn about: routine care for the breeding herd, foaling mares, preparing for sale photos, and training weanling and yearlings.
  • At the end of the semester, you will be asked to evaluate all those scheduled on your feed shifts. The feedback from these evaluations will be summarized and presented to each volunteer. This provides a valuable opportunity to gain feedback on your individual team-working skills (a skill you WILL use in the job market).

Special Volunteer Opportunities by Semester

  • SPRING: Assist in monitoring foaling mares and attend semen collection and artificial insemination procedures
  • FALL: Learn about handling of weanlings and young stock at the farm and help with the MU Online Horse Auction & Fundraiser
  • SUMMER: Hands-on experience with training of newborn foals and assist with the 4-H programs held at the Equine Teaching Facility

Special Problems Class Credit (Independent Study):
You can earn special problems credits (AS 2085 or AS 3085) by completing an independent study project with Marci Crosby. Typically, these projects assist with the management of our equine facility, production of our annual Online Horse Auction & Fundraiser or material used as references for our equine science courses.

Employment through Work Study:
If you are eligible for work study money, we will usually have positions open for hire! Students must have received Federal Work Study money (allocated by MU Financial Aid). Your work schedule will be made around your class schedule with flexibility on days where you may need time off for exams or studying. We hire for both barn staff as well as office assistants.

  • Office Assistant Job Description: Students in this position help develop spreadsheets, format Word and Excel documents, research equine pedigrees and organize files for the MU Equine Science Program. Organizational skills are required, but computer program knowledge can be taught. No horse experience needed, but an interest is preferred. This would be a great way to gain and hone organizational skills and become familiar with the equine industry.
  • Barn Staff Job Description: Students in this position assist with feeding horses, repairing fence, meeting farriers and veterinarians, cleaning waterers, moving hay and bedding, and cleaning stalls and paddocks. Our staff members are responsible for helping with the general maintenance of our equine facility. Barn staff is required to attend monthly farm meetings, and will be given the opportunity to practice new skills in optional educational events once a month. This would be a great opportunity for students to gain hands-on experience with the daily care of horses as well as facility management required by all industry professionals.