Mariah Dietz and Emma Nicholas were proud to be the first Illinois State University students to be selected into the highly coveted Kentucky Equine Management Internship (KEMI) program. The internship is a 24-week, full-time experience that gives students the opportunity to work on a thoroughbred racehorse farm. These farms are some of the most prestigious horse farms in the world.

Mariah Dietz

Dietz, who grew up with horses, always knew she wanted to gain more knowledge with equine care and management. She saw a great opportunity when the KEMI program was announced by Michelle Kibler in faculty member Kim Rhykerd’s class in the Department of Agriculture. This was the moment Dietz decided she would apply for the Spring 2018 Breeding and Foaling session.

Speaking about her experience, Dietz recalls that she was challenged to contribute her best and was provided an opportunity to learn. She has some advice for prospective applicants: “When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, it’s fun and rewarding. Being familiar with horses and how to handle them in all situations is a must. Also, having experience working with any kind of animal, especially with the not so glamorous side of cleaning and maintenance, will prepare you for the daily chores and activities you will experience.”

“This internship will challenge you, but it is definitely worth it in every single way. You will find a whole new side of yourself. This experience will be better and more gratifying than you ever expected it to be. There were so many great qualities the supervisors taught and expected from each intern on a daily basis, especially during seminars. Just remember, throughout the internship, if you work hard, it will pay off in countless ways, now as well as and later in life and throughout your career,” she said.

Emma Nicholas

Emma Nicholas

Emma Nicholas learned about the Kentucky internship when assistant professor Michelle Kibler visited one of her animal science classes. Kibler, an alum of the KEMI program, shared her internship experience with the class. Nicholas had little experience with horses and more experience with cattle and sheep on her father’s land in Ireland. She also knew the internship was very competitive, but she gave it her best shot and got the opportunity. “I stressed in my application how dedicated and hardworking I was and the amount of knowledge I had about what it takes to run and work on a farm and the amount of hard work that goes into it every day. I was extremely grateful when I found out that I had been accepted into the program and placed on Heaven Trees Farm,” she said.

Sharing her experience, Nicholas described the program as very intense but one that left her with invaluable lessons. “There are so many different things I enjoyed about the internship, like the chance to job shadow different people in the industry such as veterinarians and nutritionists, and not to mention the beautiful scenery of Lexington, Kentucky that I had the privilege to wake up to every morning. However, the thing I enjoyed the most about my internship was attending the foalings and helping these foals come into the world and then working with them every day and learning their own little personalities. It is amazing to see how much they grow and change each and every day.” she said. She advised prospective applicants to have an open mind and be ready to work, because it might be strenuous but the experience is definitely worth it!

If you’re considering an internship that provides you with the opportunity to work with horses, this is a great shot! For more updates, make sure to follow the College of Applied Science and Technology on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.