One of my favorite duties at the Adequan/USDF Annual Convention is interviewing each year's Salute Gala honorees -- the USDF Lifetime Achievement Award recipients and/or the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame inductees. The USDF Historical Recognition Committee videotapes the interviews for the record and to share with USDF members, and for some years now I've had the pleasure of playing Barbara Walters.
Today I had back-to-back interviews with this year's honorees, Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Maryal Barnett and Janine Malone. The USDF Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary volunteer contributions to the USDF. (For more about this award and to see a list of past recipients, click here.)
Maryal and Janine are two very different personalities, and their contributions to the USDF have been equally different. Maryal has been a dedicated faculty member of and examiner in the USDF Instructor/Trainer Program, and faculty member of the USDF "L" Education Program. Janine's contributions lean more toward the governance and organizational side: She has served as USDF Region 1 director, USDF secretary, and in many other committee roles; and she has helped organize several major USDF programs, including the US Dressage Finals.
Despite these differences, there were remarkable similarities in their interviews. Both Maryal and Janine said that their love of horses and dressage motivated them to get involved with the sport on a level far beyond that of casual participant. Both attended early USDF annual meetings, liked the people they met and the shared passion for dressage, and wanted to do more. Most strikingly, both said they were aware of the importance of giving back to the sport that has given them so much. And, overachievers that they are, both said that if they're going to do something, they're going to do it to the best of their abilities.
As a result, our 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award honorees have devoted countless hours to bettering the sport of dressage in the US. They are proud of what they have helped to create and achieve -- although, as Maryal put it, "I was just doing my job."
Just doing her job? Going way above and beyond the call of duty is more like it. Those of us who ride dressage in this country are better off for these women's efforts, and I look forward to watching them formally accept their awards at this weekend's Salute Gala and Annual Awards Banquet.