Lara joined NCTRC in 1992, and has served in various capacities including sidewalker, leader, instructor, and board member. Lara holds a BA in Communication Studies from UNC-Greensboro, and an MBA from Elon University. Lara has ridden horses since the age of 4 (when her 2 year old sister convinced their parents) and has competed in hunters, jumpers, dressage, intercollegiate, and for one scary day, eventing. She is passionate about sharing the horse experience with those who would otherwise not grow up with them.
Program Director, Instructor
Jackie has been involved with NCTRC since 1987, when she began volunteering as a way to stay involved with horses. She holds a bachelor's degree in Medical Technology from Duke University, and is a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor and mentor. Jackie loves watching her students build confidence, develop a love for horses and horseback riding and most of all have fun!
Margie joined NCTRC in 1993 as a physical therapist and PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor. She holds a master’s degree in Physical Therapy from Case Western Reserve University, and received training in hippotherapy through the American Hippotherapy Association’s Level I and Level II courses. She never tires of the joys of helping children and adults with physical challenges begin to overcome these and thrive through the partnership with a willing horse or pony and team of dedicated volunteers.
Volunteer Manager, Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning
Ryan joined the staff at NCTRC in the winter of 2017 and has filled a variety of roles. She holds a BA in Political Science and a Master of Accounting from UNC Chapel Hill, but decided that she preferred a nonprofit career over public accounting. Ryan is now a PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor and equine specialist in mental health and learning. She also works with our volunteers to make classes possible, and assists with the care of the horses and farm. Ryan has enjoyed working with horses since she was young and loves sharing that experience with others.
Katherine Miracle Bennett
Equine Manager, Instructor
Katherine joined NCTRC in late 2018, but has been involved with horses since the age of 5. She competed in Grand Prix show jumping from the age of 16, and represented the US in Europe on the USET Developing Rider Tour. Katherine holds a BA in Forensics Anthropology from Rollins College. She was inspired to join NCTRC after witnessing firsthand the changes in participants from therapeutic riding and hippotherapy, and is currently pursuing instructor certification with PATH Int'l.
Kelsey Craig, LCSW
Licensed Social Worker, Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning
Kelsey received a BA in Psychology, with a minor in Sociology, from UNC-Asheville in 2013 and a MSW from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice in 2016. Since graduation, Kelsey has worked as therapist in a variety of settings, including inpatient treatment, group therapy, and individual therapy. Kelsey has always had a love and passion for horses, and began riding at the age of six years old. Kelsey showed through the Junior Hunters as a child, and is now competing as an Adult Amateur with her horse, Timmy. Being able to combine her passion for horses with her drive for helping others is a dream come true. Kelsey believes in the healing power of animals as well as the importance of psychotherapy. Although Kelsey typically works in partnership with an equine specialist for sessions, she is also certified by PATH as an equine specialist in mental health and learning.
Sarah has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She primarily works at Duke Regional Hospital, but is very excited to begin seeing clients at NCTRC incorporating hippotherapy. Sarah completed AHA level I class with plans to complete level II soon, and she is currently working toward instructor certification with PATH! Sarah has over 20 years of horse experience as she began riding as a small child. She went on to ride horses in college for University of Tennessee at Martin.
Amy joined NCTRC in 2019. She earned her Master of Physical Therapy from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1999. While a Fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill's Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning, Amy received the Tom Watson Trainee Research Award, in order to conduct research involving access to community recreation for people with disabilities. Amy also published an article about promoting community recreation and leisure in the Pediatric Physical Therapy journal of the American Physical Therapy Association in 2003. Amy has extensive experience with a wide variety of conditions, including various syndromes and associations, rare genetic defects, organ transplants, and unspecified gross motor delay, and has completed the AHA Part 1 course.
Francesca joined NCTRC in August of 2017 as a physical therapist. Francesca has a BS in Physical Therapy and a MS in Exercise Physiology. She received training in Hippotherapy through the AHA Part I course and looks toward completing her Part II course soon. Francesca has 40 years of physical therapy as well as over 20 years of riding experience and feels she has found her niche here working with our children and adults.
Kyrsten and her husband moved to Efland in 2015 for him to pursue his dream job. She primarily works at Duke University Hospital as an Occupational Therapist in the Medical ICU, and also sees clients at NCTRC for hippotherapy. Kyrsten did 3-day eventing in high school then worked as a head wrangler at a camp through college; she says that the life skills she has learned from horses have made her who she is today, for which she is thankful.
Leslie has been crazy about horses since she was little and feels most balanced when horses are part of her life. She has a BS in Foods and Nutrition from Appalachian State and a Master's in Human Nutrition from Winthrop University. When she’s not caring for the horses at NCTRC, Leslie practices as a dietitian in Elon, specializing in disordered eating. Leslie loves helping her clients heal their relationships with food and body, and she is working on a way to incorporate horses into this healing process.
Jennifer started at NCTRC in the summer of 2017 as an APPLES intern from UNC Chapel Hill, where she graduated in 2018 with a BA in Public Relations and Political Science. Jennifer came to NCTRC with no horse experience, but throughout her internship, she has not only embraced the NCTRC mission but also a love for horses and what they can do for people with disabilities. After falling in love with the organization, Jennifer agreed to stay on the NCTRC team.
Special Projects, Instructor
Audrey joined NCTRC in 2007, but has been involved with this industry since 2004. She is a PATH-certified therapeutic riding and vaulting instructor, and holds a BS degree in Animal Science from NCSU. Audrey was excited to discover NCTRC after moving to NC from the west coast, where she worked at another therapeutic riding center. She has also generously shared her horses Six and Star with NCTRC.
Brooke has been involved with NCTRC since 2015, and is a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor. She holds a BA in Therapeutic Horsemanship from St. Andrews University. After graduation she began working as a riding instructor for NCTRC.
Courtney joined NCTRC in 2017 as a PATH-certified therapeutic riding instructor. She has been a part of the equine community for the past 20 years, but her love for therapeutic riding began in 2004 when she first started volunteering at Coastal Therapeutic Riding Program (CTRP). Courtney was a member of the United States Pony Club for 8 years, participating in regional and national clinics and rallies. After graduating from high school, she studied psychology and also joined the eventing world. She has been teaching therapeutic riding in Wilmington at CTRP for the past 6 years and created a ponies and princesses (or superhero) birthday party company that caters to children of all ages and abilities. In her free time, Courtney likes to create costumes and go to comic conventions.
Special Projects, Instructor
Kristen has been involved with NCTRC since January 2015, and by June 2015 had decided to pursue a career in EAAT. She holds a BS in Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill, and is a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor. Kristen also assists us with development and grant writing! She is in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Central Piedmont Community College, and we look forward to her adding hippotherapy to her talents soon!
Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning
Lissa has been involved with NCTRC since 1986, and is currently certified by PATH Intl as an Advanced Instructor and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Lissa holds a BS degree from Duke, as well as MD and MPH degrees from UNC. She loves teaching and seeing the positive impact that horses can have on people.
Tess received her BSW in 2009 from Illinois State University. Her mom would say she was born in a barn, and spent every available minute around horses. Formerly a Director of Alumni Affairs for an international study abroad program, she decided to pursue her greatest love of working with horses and people. Tess received her Instructor Certification through the Therapeutic Riding Center of Israel, and moved back stateside in 2019 after nine years abroad. She is certified as a PATH Int'l riding instructor and is currently pursuing Equine Specialist certification. Tess believes wholeheartedly in the power of animal/human connection, and is so excited to be a part of the NCTRC team!
Rachel is a Sociology major in her junior year, interested in pursuing a career working with disabilities and service animals. She is currently part of UNC’s best buddies program, which matches a college student with a community member with disabilities. Her buddy this year is deaf, allowing her to refine her American Sign Language skills. Her dog Theodore (Teddy for short) takes up her remaining free time. She is thrilled to be part of the NCTRC as a Spring APPLES Intern as she explores the opportunities in this career.
Tracy has been involved with NCTRC since 2013, and is a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor. She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from UNC-Wilmington and is a Certified Nursing Assistant. Tracy visited the farm in 2012 for a special event, instantly fell in love with the work we do and started volunteering, then came on staff to manage our herd, began teaching and pursued certification as an instructor, and has never looked back.
Mallory joined NCTRC's staff in 2015, and was certified as PATH riding instructor in 2019. She graduated from High Point University in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and in 2018 with a master's degree in Educational Leadership; she is now enrolled in a doctoral program to complete her studies. Mallory loves having the opportunity through NCTRC to make camp an empowering experience for campers of all different ages and abilities.
Angelica graduated from Averett University with a BS of Science in 2018 with a major in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and a minor in Psychology. She has been working and riding horses since the age of 9. She was previously certified with EAGALA, but her thirst for knowledge led her to her current pursuit of a PATH certification as well. Angelica truly has a passion for horses and has really enjoyed getting to know her NCTRC family.
Jennie is a sophomore at NC State university, studying Business Administration. She loves working with horses and has been riding since she was 13 years old. Her enthusiasm for trail riding led her to compete in Hunter paces, though she also loves working on technical skills in the arena. Her love for horses also led her to become a volunteer at NCTRC and then a barn assistant. At the NCTRC, she has been able to see and admire how horses can change people's lives for the better.
Facility Manager (medical leave)
James has been caring for this farm since even before NCTRC arrived. He cares for the horses and maintains the facility in excellent condition. James describes working outdoors and with the therapy horses as "hog heaven."