Date: June 10, 2004 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact:

Michal Shanley, (863) 534-6631 OR (863) 819-0397

PCSO Deputy Named Florida Sheriff's 2004 Youth Villa Volunteer of the Year

Polk County Sheriff's Office Agriculture K-9 Deputy Shawn Stephenson recently was named the Florida Sheriff's Youth Villa “2004 Volunteer of the Year” in recognition of his extensive volunteer work with local members of the Girls Youth Villa located near Bartow.

Stephenson was a founding member of a volunteer project designed to help teach the girls living at the Youth Villa how to properly care for and ride the horses kept at the Youth Villa. Stephenson - joined by PCSO members Jeanne Oesterle, Kim Garrett, Kelly Wombles, and various other horse enthusiasts - initiated the volunteer project during the Summer of 2003 after recognizing a need at the Youth Villa for someone to work with the girls and the horses.

Just to get the project up and running, the PCSO volunteer team donated numerous personal hours to make sure the girls had horses that were well-suited for riding and training. Once the appropriate horses were brought to the Villa, Stephenson and other volunteers taught the girls how to properly bathe, groom, feed and care for the animals. Once the girls became familiar with the horses and all the tools and equipment involved in caring for them, the lessons focused on how to properly ride. It was at this point that the volunteer team encountered an obstacle: there was no safe and appropriate arena to hold the riding lessons. Not to be sidetracked, the PCSO volunteer team sought support from the community, receiving a $1,000 donation for a new arena. Once the supplies were purchased, PCSO volunteers tackled the fence project - raising the 150x200 foot arena fence in only 2 days.

The program also allowed the opportunity for the girls to volunteer their time and their newfound expertise by helping care for abused horses that were seized during a PCSO animal abuse case. An article about Deputy Stephenson and the girls' work with the abused animals was featured in the Spring issue of The Rancher, a magazine published by the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches.


Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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