LCCC Instructor Named AQHA Emerging Leader
Morgan Pennington, an instructor and equine coach at Laramie County Community College, was recently recognized by the American Quarter Horse Association with the Emerging Leader Award.
Originally from Georgetown, Texas, Pennington grew up participating in every equine event possible, “doing a little bit of everything and nothing particularly well,” she says. While her family always had horses, the deep knowledge of owning and riding horses would only come later. She attended Texas A&M University, participating on the horse judging team and ranch horse team. “That’s what really opened up a lot of doors for me,” says Pennington. After graduating with a degree in Animal Science, she stayed on as a graduate assistant to help coach the ranch horse team at A&M.
From there, Pennington began a journey of gaining professional and life experience: she trained on her own; worked for a boys and girls ranch; taught lessons in Texas and in Germany; and was an assistant reined cow horse trainer for various professionals, including Annie Reynolds and Gusti Buerger in Idaho, and Wade Meador in Oklahoma. While in Idaho, she met her husband, Adam, and the two began seeking “a place to land” together. Throughout her travels, she knew her heart would always be in teaching and educating.
The job at LCCC became available in 2021, and it was a great fit for Pennington. She moved to Cheyenne and began working while her husband finished his guiding season. He then took a job as a fly fishing guide in Casper, where he now works seasonally. The couple were married last summer.
Pennington is just finishing her second year of teaching and coaching at LCCC, but seems to have found her home. “I was more appreciative of the fact that the college was so proud of me. LCCC told everybody, and that was really cool to feel really appreciated where I’m at. That’s just really validating,” she says. She appreciates the support of the new agricultural program director, Lindsey Freeman. “It’s a great team we have at LCCC in the ag department now. We are very excited about the future of our program and the growth we have seen. Everybody seems to be motivated and driven, like me, so we get along well,” Pennington says.
Pennington’s weekly schedule is full. She not only teaches equine classes that lend to the college’s Equine Management degree, she also coaches the equestrian and ranch horse teams. Pennington is also able to ride and show her own horses in the meantime, allowing her to continue developing professionally as a trainer.
The equestrian team is a part of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association, which provides opportunities for all levels of equestrians to show horses. Their horses are drawn at each show, which allows competitors to showcase their horsemanship skills in various classes. The ranch horse team, on the other hand, competes regionally on their own horses. Each competition consists of reining, working cow horse, ranch riding, and ranch trail, with the purpose of creating the ideal all around equine athlete. Their region spans from Nebraska to Colorado and throughout Wyoming, and nationals are held in Texas.
To be nominated for the AQHA Emerging Leader Award, Pennington had to meet the age requirement of 21-35, be a role model in the industry, and display qualities of leadership, service, education, and more. Pennington was nominated by her mentor, Dr. Joe Armstrong, Professor Emeritus at New Mexico State University, whom she taught with in Germany. From there, she also required two letters of recommendation, and she is grateful for these references: Dr. Jennifer Zoller, her graduate advisor, and Jill Dunkel off Stock Horse of Texas.
Pennington felt most honored to be included among a spectacular group of horsemen and horsewomen. “Look at little old me. I knew nothing, I was nobody in this industry. I still feel like I have so far to go as a professional, but it was really cool to be recognized and that the work I’m doing was noticed,” she says.
Because of her own background, Pennington has a particular passion for helping students from varied backgrounds. “I definitely feel for the student who comes in with limited knowledge and big dreams, because that was me. People took a chance on me and I feel like I have the ability to help students in the same shoes that I was,” she says.
The AQHA held a plaque presentation last weekend to honor award winners, but Pennington was not in attendance because she was taking her ranch horse team to the Colorado State University Spring Celebration. Her dedication to her team paid off, because LCCC emerged Division I champions. “It was worth staying home,” she smiles.