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TerraNova recruits volunteers for big event in Myakka

Fernhill Copain and Jonathan Holling put their best foot forward as they compete in show jumping at Terra Nova's 2022 event.
Fernhill Copain and Jonathan Holling put their best foot forward as they compete in show jumping at Terra Nova's 2022 event.
Photo by Jay Heater
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Hannah Herrig-Ketelboeter and her mom Natalee Herrig were preparing for the first major event at their new TerraNova Equestrian Center in 2021 when they started thinking about volunteers.

They knew they needed about 80 volunteers, and at such a beautiful facility in Myakka, how hard could it be to assemble a workforce?

Herrig-Ketelboeter remembered, "My mom and I said, 'Oh, we can do that.'"

It took only a short time before they realized, as Herrig-Ketelboeter said, "This is not happening. I struggled with it. ... That's a lot.'"

While Herrig-Ketelboeter, TerraNova's founder and COO, was well versed in the competitive side of equestrian competitions, she didn't understand all the tasks performed by the volunteers. Fortunately, she knew someone who did.

Sarasota's Katy Rosen is a competitor in the eventing class and she had met Herrig-Ketelboeter while riding at a Fruitville Road facility (which now is home to Resilient Retreat). Herrig-Ketelboeter's husband, Zach Ketelboeter, was Rosen's coach.

Rosen had experience in assembling volunteers, such as she did while on the board at Temple Beth Sholom of Sarasota.

Better yet, "I'm a horse person," she said.

Rosen, who now is TerraNova's volunteer coordinator, already had fallen in love with the new facility at 31625 Clay Gully Road.

"Oh my gosh," she said. "It's a Disney World for horse people."

On Nov. 16-19, the TerraNova Equestrian Center will be hosting its third "The Event at TerraNova." This time, more than 100 volunteers will be needed. Shifts generally are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Rosen will be assembling the volunteer force for the third time.

It won't be as hard as it was in 2021 at that first major event.

"I called everyone I knew," Rosen said. "Nonprofits, churches, high schools. Now, we have a lot of return volunteers. They know it is such a great experience."

Besides being able to spend a day in the country, volunteers receive swag bags that include, among other things, a water bottle, a cooling towel, and a hat. TerraNova has given out computer backpacks to its volunteers in the past.

Volunteers also receive a box lunch and snacks, and sometimes when it is hot, ice cream.

For each volunteer hour worked, TerraNova pays $20 to a local charity.

"Part of our mission is to give back," Herrig-Ketelboeter said. "This is an opportunity to help us help out the community."

Over three years of events has taught Herrig-Ketelboeter about the importance of a solid volunteer force.

"Definitely, you learn a lot as a competitor," Herrig-Ketelboeter said. "But you don't think of everything that goes on (behind the scenes). These events wouldn't happen without the volunteers. As a competitor, you don't realize that all these people are here."



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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