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Volunteer Highlight: Dianne Vukelich

The connection between humans and animals cannot be understated — it can improve our physical and emotional health. Our featured volunteer, Dianne Vukelich, has experienced this for years, and serves to help others receive this benefit as well.

Vukelich has loved animals for just about as long as she can remember. Although she volunteers in many capacities, one of her favorites is serving at North Country RIDE (NCR), a therapeutic horseback riding program. NCR, located in Esko, serves clients with a wide variety of life challenges. Clients of all ages have the opportunity to participate in a variety of equine assisted therapeutic activities and individualized programs. Vukelich began serving at NCR as a young adult. When she had time again, she returned, and has been there for the last eight years.

When Vukelich began at NCR, she assisted riders and worked with the horses. Later she served as a herd manager. Currently she focuses on fund raising and assists with maintenance. What she enjoys most though, is “witnessing what horses do to people…The energy of people is balanced with the constant quiet of large animals.” She relates how inspiring and meaningful it is seeing a child she worked with who had physical challenges bloom and grow into an adult who now works as a medical professional, or an older adult who is blind who has learned to gain confidence in their ability to function in unfamiliar surroundings.

From what she has experienced at North Country RIDE and throughout life, Vukelich said she feels she has an obligation to herself to volunteer because she can. In her words, her problems are as “trivial as a mite.” She is grateful for her health and ability to do the many activities she participates in. “After all,” she said, “it is given to me.”

If you are interested in learning more about becoming part of the team touching lives at North Country RIDE, call NCR at 218-879-7608. There are opportunities for almost all ages. Sessions run from mid-April through mid-October. No horse experience is necessary.

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