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Continued closure of the Ellsworth Equestrian Center

The Ellsworth Equestrian Center is typically bustling with activity this time of year.  Ellsworth Community College faculty and staff are usually preparing for the return of students for the fall semester.  Weekends are usually booked out for events ranging from breed shows to equipment showcases.  However, this year is anything but usual for the 75,100 square foot facility located on ECC’s Hamilton Campus.  The College and Equine Center staff announced that all events scheduled for the remainder of the year have been canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some affected events are the ISU Equine Extravaganza, Iowa Palomino Exhibitors Association, Go for Broke Barrels Jackpot, and several others.  Many of the events will be rescheduled for a later date or move to a different venue.  “The purpose of this decision is primarily driven by the need to focus on bringing our student body back to school in a safe, comfortable environment this fall,” says Dana Merritt, Equine Faculty and Event Coordinator at the Equestrian Center.  “We are hopeful that attendees will come back to our events when they return next year!”  In the meantime, event attendees are encouraged to go directly to the breed association or other organizations for details about individual events.

Dr. Amanda Estey, Dean of Academic Affairs at Ellsworth Community College, was part of the committee who decided to extend the closure for external events.  “We are extremely disheartened to be in this situation which requires us to close our equine facilities to the public for the time being due to the prolonged impact of the pandemic.  However, this closure will help us ensure the preservation and integrity of the #2 ranked equestrian management program in the nation and that students will continue to receive a quality education.”

Ellsworth’s equine management program was named as one of the top Associate Degree programs in the nation by Horse Illustrated.  The Equestrian Center itself received accolades as one of the best equine facilities by Best Value Schools.

“I truly feel we are doing what is best for the long-term viability of our college, and thus, the Equestrian Center itself.  Without a top-notch equine program featuring hands-on courses, ECC will lose that piece of what makes us unique, vibrant, and essential to serving both our local community and the horse industry at large,” stated Merritt.

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