MTSU’s Hoffman named ‘Outstanding Educator’; Horse Science students, alumni shine at virtual symposium

Jul 13, 2021 at 11:24 am by WGNS

Kailey Vande Kamp, left, of Hendersonville, Tenn., Courtney Smith of Murfreesboro, MTSU Horse Science Director Rhonda Hoffman, Kaylee Layton of Huntsville, Utah, Luke Brock of Franklin, Tenn., and MTSU graduate program Director Holly Spooner are shown with Hola, one of the horses utilized in the program. Layton earned two second-place honors and Vande Kamp, Smith and Brock presented during the virtual 2021 Equine Science Society Symposium. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Past and present Middle Tennessee State University Horse Science students continue to excel in their academic research. 

The recent 2021 Equine Science Society Symposium, held virtually because of COVID-19 precautions, featured research presentations by MTSU master’s students Luke Brock, Kaylee Layton, Courtney Smith and Kailey Vande Kamp.


Layton earned two second-place awards and Horse Science Director Rhonda Hoffman received the society’s 2021 Outstanding Educator Award.

“We’re really happy to report success in our master’s of horse science graduate program,” Hoffman said, adding the students were among dozens of graduate and 157 presenters altogether at the bi-annual meeting of scientists, equine scientists, veterinarians, feed manufacturers and other horse enthusiasts representing 18 nations.

Horse Science alumni presenting from other schools included Delaney Rostad, who earned her bachelor’s at MTSU and is now in the master’s program at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Erica Macon, who earned her master’s at MTSU and is in the University of Kentucky doctoral program; and Chloe Wires, who earned her master’s at MTSU and is in the Purdue University doctoral program.

Layton, who is from Huntsville, Utah, earned accolades for second place in the Teaching & Extension graduate competition and second overall in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science Graduate Publication Award.

“It was an honor and I’m really grateful to have received both awards,” Layton said. “It was such a great opportunity to be able to present my research and the fact that it was an international symposium made it an awesome experience. It’s really cool to see all the research being done worldwide to benefit the horse industry.”

Layton also expressed her gratitude “for the faculty here in the MTSU Horse Science program. They were so influential and helpful through my research.”

Hoffman said Layton’s showing “is even more significant because master’s and Ph.D. students were not separated for any of the competitions, so she competed against students with more experience.”

Horse Science is one of a number of programs in the School of Agriculture in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

National Outstanding Educator

The Equine Science Society’s Outstanding Educator honor for Hoffman — one of six major awards the organization presented — recognizes an individual who has demonstrated excellence in the area of equine education, either to students or persons in the horse industry, the organization said in its website announcement.

“I can’t put into words how much this means to get that award,” said Hoffman, a member of the Equine Science Society since 1993. “I’ve been nominated before, but never received it and so this was a really special year.”

School of Agriculture Director Jessica Carter nominated Hoffman.

Hoffman recently teamed with Warren Evans, Jessica Petersen and Dale Van Vleck to co-author a revised edition of “The Horse,” a textbook relating scientific principles to practical applications for experienced horse owners, students, extension agents and horse enthusiasts.


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