Blue Mountain Academy Student Awarded for Service
Sierra Fox, a sophomore at Blue Mountain Academy in Hamburg, Pa., recently received the Maryland Governor’s Volunteer Service Award on behalf of the students and horses of Great and Small.
Great and Small is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1998 and provides therapeutic riding to students with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. Students come to Great and Small from throughout Montgomery County, Maryland and find functional learning opportunities, tailored to their unique abilities and disabilities in a sports and recreational setting.
As a small organization, the work of the organization is only possible with the assistance of volunteers such as Fox. However, her level of dedication is noteworthy—she volunteers an average of 64 hours a month.
She first began volunteering for Great and Small in August 2008 at age 15, continuing throughout 2009. Her family had just moved to Maryland, and she wanted to get to know her new community. She has now volunteered over 974 hours, serving as an assistant during therapeutic riding lessons (in which she leads the horse or side walks while the disabled student rides) as well as helps in horse care and farm work.
Rescued horses often require special care, and farm work is challenging even in fair weather, but Fox showed up consistently, routinely undertaking all the hardest, coldest and most exhausting tasks, even when other volunteers could not make it due to weather. She slogged through muddy fields to tend to the horses, hacked the ice in water troughs, transported manure from stalls and fields and made sure there was hay in the pastures. This physically demanding work is even more so considering that Fox stands 4’11’’.
One board member remembers Fox hauling hoses around the farm to fill up 100-gallon-water troughs during a rainstrom before she had to go home, despite everyone saying that someone else could do it when it stopped raining.
Fox was only one of two students selected to receive this award out of 24 nominees in the youth category. She also qualified for the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor program.