Black Hills students awarded horse scholarships |

Black Hills students awarded horse scholarships

Stephanie Johnson (left) and Samantha Sleep, who have been friends for years, were recently chosen for two different scholarships from the American Quarter Horse Foundation. Photo courtesy Linda Johnson
Jana Thompson |

The American Quarter Horse Foundation recently released the names of their sholarship recipients. Samantha Sleep of Spearfish, S.D., and Stephanie Johnson of Belle Fourche, S.D., life-long friends and teammates in the 4-H quiz bowl and hippology competitions were chosen to receive scholarships. They were members of the winning National Hippology Team at the Western National 4-H Roundup in 2011 and on the state team for the quiz bowl in 2010 placing fifth at Western Nationals. They both also were part of a South Dakota Quarter Horse team that placed third at the World Quarter Horse Youth Show in the quiz bowl competition.

The AQHF scholarship program awards outstanding members for their dedication to higher education. Recipients are selected based on academic achievement, financial need, references and participation in equine-related activities.

Sleep, the daughter of Jeff and Jodi Sleep, received the Excellence in Equine/Agricultural Involvement Scholarship courtesy of the Charles B. Wang Foundation. This is a $25,000 four-year scholarship for an AQHA or AQHYA member who exemplifies the characteristics of leadership and excellence acquired through participation in equine and or agriculture activities, and does not compete in AQHA approved shows.

Honors Sleep has achieved include: salutatorian of the class of 2013 at Spearfish High School, S.D. state 4-H president, state 4-H youth council, Academic All-State, Daktronics All-State Academic Bronze Team, SD 4-H delegate to national 4-H congress and National 4-H Conference in Washington, DC. Sleep was active in All-State Choir, volleyball, track, Girls’ State, key club, student council, class treasurer and secretary and student body vice president. Along with all these achievements Samantha showed horses in 4-H to state Horse Show Championship in 4-H, showed in hunter equitation over fences, english showmanship. She was third high individual at the National Western in the hippology competition and was on the national winning hippology team and fifth place quiz bowl team. She was a state qualifier in the cutting in S.D. High School Rodeo. She has shown cattle, sheep and meat goats at the county, regional and state levels. She makes her home in Spearfish on the family ranch and currently works at Iron Creek Lake. Samantha will be attending South Dakota State University in Brookings this fall majoring in Biotechnology with minors in animal science and chemistry. After a recent mission trip to Ethiopia she would like to someday assist Africans with modern agricultural practice. She would like to work in equine or livestock genetics, embryology or reproduction.

Stephanie Johnson, Belle Fourche, S.D., the daughter of Linda Johnson and Gene Johnson of Belle Fourche, received the $8,000 American Quarter Horse Foundation Youth Scholarship courtesy of Bill and Cindy Cosentino of Omaha, Neb. This is a four-year scholarship given to a member of the AQHYA who has been a member for more than three years who is in the upper 25th percent of their high school class, exhibits an affinity for the advancement of the American Quarter Horse and demonstrates leadership potential and has participated in AQHA shows in the youth activities.

Johnson was the valedictorian of her 2013 Belle Fourche High School class and was the senior class president, junior class secretary, homecoming queen and served on the Student Council, was involved with peer tutoring, teen court, Honor Society and has been the Butte/Lawrence Jr. Leader President for two years. She was named to the top one percent high school students in South Dakota, recently placed at the State A track meet in pole vaulting and was named to the All-State Academic Honorees by S.D. Track and Field Coaches. She has been a member of the High School Dance Team and on the competitive cheer team placing third at state in 2012, and she also took part in school plays.

A life member of the AQHA youth program, she has shown Quarter Horses since she was three. She has served as the South Dakota Quarter Horse Youth President and held other offices. She has won awards including SDQHYA All-Around Youth three years and showed her horse to the title of AQHA Youth Champion. Johnson has qualified her horse for the AQHYA World Show four times and received many all-arounds with AQHA, Wyoming, South Dakota and Center of the Nation Quarter Horse Associations. In 2012 she was the First Runner-Up to the Miss High School Rodeo Queen for South Dakota. Johnson has also won AQHA Regional Event titles in western riding, trail, showmanship and halter. Her 4-H career has included state 4-H Horse show top senior judger, third high individual in the quiz bowl at Denver Nationals and State champion 4-H titles in showmanship, horsemanship, western riding, English equitation and trail. She has also shown sheep and her art work in 4-H.

She is currently employed as an NA and will attend the University of Sioux Falls in September, where she plans to major in biology and chemistry working toward a pre-med degree and will minor in Spanish.

Since 1976, the Foundation has funded over 1,200 students for over $5.7 million in scholarship funding. For more information on the AQHF Scholarship Program visit the Foundation’s web site at

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