June 10, 2004
Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Michal Shanley, (863) 534-6631 OR (863) 819-0397
PCSO Deputy Named Florida Sheriff's 2004 Youth Villa Volunteer of the Year
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.
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.