Volunteer of the month: Aimee Schumacher

Each month Equine Online will interview a different volunteer from around the country. This month Yvette Morrissey spoke to Aimee Schumacher (Taranaki) about the many groups she volunteers for, how she got involved with volunteering and how it helped her gain her degree.

Aimee and Sir Tristan de Lyones (Jake) at the Taranaki All Breeds Show which she is president of. Photo credit: HK Photography.

Aimee and Sir Tristan de Lyones (Jake) at the Taranaki All Breeds Show of which she is president of. Photo credit: HK Photography.

Where do you work?

TSB Hub Hawera for the South Taranaki District Council.

Do you have any qualifications?

I completed a conjoint Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Business Studies majoring in Human Nutrition and Sport Business Management in 2014 from Massey University, Palmerston North. I have just reenrolled at Massey University to complete a Graduate Diploma in Business Studies with an Accounting Endorsement to enhance my financial knowledge. 

How long have you been riding horses?

Since before I could walk! I have competed in many different disciplines in the past. My main focus now has been directed towards jumping, particularly eventing where I have competed to pre-novice level. I’ve also attended Pony Club champs for eventing, and show jumped to 1.15m.

Where do you volunteer?

I volunteer for a number of different organizations and groups. I have the role of Chief Horse Steward at the Stratford A&P Show; I’m the president of the Taranaki Horse and Pony All Breeds Show committee, a member of the Royal Agricultural Society’s Youth Council co-holding the equestrian portfolio, and at number of other local equestrian groups including my local pony club, Stratford Pony Club.

How long have you been volunteering for?

Ever since I can remember, I remember helping out at different events alongside my parents as I was growing up and then eventually taking over some of their positions.

What made you want to become a volunteer? 

Both of my parents have been involved in volunteering for a number of different organisations and groups over the years. My dad is a show jumping judge and my mum is on a number of committees. I took over mum’s role of Chief Horse Steward initially as part of my university studies but I have continued on in the role. I guess it just happens, once you get given a job or a role its pretty easy to keep doing it once you know what your doing, and if it’s hard to get rid of your’re probably doing it pretty well.

On average, how many hours a week do you spend volunteering?

For my university studies I had a practicum paper for sport management, I totaled around 240 voluntary hours over eight months as Chef Horse Steward, however I don’t think this covers all the hours I actually put in! I’m extremely grateful that we have an excellent team of volunteers at the association who strive to make the show better and are always willing to help out with the equestrian section.

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Aimee and Sir Tristan de Lyones in action at the Stratford Pony Club Sports Day jumping the course she designed and built. Photo credit: Sarah Anne Photography

What’s your favourite part of volunteering?

When everything comes together for an event on show day and all the hard work done beforehand is finally seen in action.

Why do you think volunteering is important?

Volunteering some time or resources is extremely important for the continuation and affordability of the sport in New Zealand. We are extremely lucky to have a large number of events that are mainly run using the time and resources of volunteers. This reduces the costs to competitors and members considerably- imagine the cost and amount of events we would have without volunteers! 

What are some of the things you have learned from volunteering?

A lot of my experiences during my time volunteering I have been able to relate to my university studies improving my understanding of theories behind sport management. I have also learnt a lot from course builders and judges, which has been beneficial for my riding and understanding of different disciplines. I think the biggest thing I have learnt is the number of hours that go into running an event and that you can’t always please everyone. Until you are behind the scenes at an event or on a committee you might not quite be able to appreciate the work that people put in to keep our sport going. 

Tell us about a memorable experience you have had while volunteering.

One of my favourite events at our Stratford A&P Show is the low show/pleasure jumping event we hold after the registered classes finish. The numbers were so high one year that we jumped until it was too dark (around 9pm) that night. It is a highlight watching budding young riders starting their competitive careers and the older riders who put their brave undies on for the one time a year they get out there and do a round. It’s great to see their smiling faces when they leave the ring.

If someone wanted to become a volunteer what is the best way to go about it?

The easiest thing to do would be to approach one of your local groups or organising committees and see if there is anything you are able to do to help out. If you’re at a show, spending 5-10 minutes to help change jumping heights or putting things away can make a big difference. Many hands make light work.

What would you say to people who are considering volunteering?

As Nike says ‘Just do it’.

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