Edye started with at HETRA in 1991 as a volunteer and was certified as an instructor in 1995. She has attended the American Hippotherapy Level 1 and Level 2 Courses, and received her Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist Certification in 2016.
She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Creighton University. In 2007 Edye was awarded the PATH, Intl. Region 7 Instructor of the Year Award. In 2013 Edye received the “Caring for Others” award from Woodmen of the World. Edye has presented numerous times at the PATH, Intl. Region 7 Conference, most recently presenting on posture and position corrections for the Certified Riding Instructor in 2016. Edye’s favorite hobby is being a horse show mom to her two girls and occasionally doing a little showing herself. She loves taking care of her many dogs, cats and horses at home all of whom seem to be high maintenance and require lots of TLC. She especially enjoys teaching her dog Quincy fun new tricks!
“I have so many favorite memories of the people and horses I have been blessed to work with over the past 26 years. One of these memories is of a wonderful horse named Odie. Odie taught so many people how to ride and be successful in the saddle – I can’t even tell you the number of people he helped over his years of service. He was a kind soul and a gentle giant but my best memory of him and this occurred after almost every single ride was when the student had dismounted Odie would bend his neck all the way around the side to get a look at who had just gotten off. It was almost as if he was saying – Hey good job up there today to each and every rider. He was truly a once in a life time type of horse that I will never forget!”
“The students, staff, volunteers and horses at HETRA are all truly amazing and I am so fortunate to be able to be able to combine my two great passions in life helping others and horses into a career that makes a difference in so many people’s lives. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I have been so blessed to be on this journey with all of the amazing people and horses that make up HETRA! The first 25 years have been such an adventure – I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years bring…..”
Erin started working at HETRA in 1996, and has served many roles in the organization, from Instructor to Horse Manager, Volunteer Coordinator and now the Finance & Administrative Manager. She has been a PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor since 2000. Erin has her Bachelor of Science in Equine Science from Colorado State University.
She also completed the Salesforce Admin 101 Course in 2009. Erin was nominated and received the honor of being elected the PATH, Intl. Region 7 Representative. She has been representing the PATH, Intl. Region 7 members from 2013 to 2017. Erin has presented numerous times at the PATH, Intl. Region 7 Conference. In her spare time Erin enjoys spending time with her family, watching her daughter play volleyball, hanging out with her dog Tucker and showing her Miniature Horses.
“I love coming to work because of the amazing people that I get to work with every day. I love being a part of this team and getting the opportunity to make a difference in our community. Not many people get to say they love their job, but I do LOVE my job!”
Renee Anderson, PT
Renee joined the HETRA team in 2018. She has an Exercise Science Bachelors and Doctorate of Physical Therapy both from Missouri State University.
"Being a physical therapist at HETRA is both challenging and rewarding. It challenges me to use horse movement in creative ways to help patients achieve goals. There are so many knowledgeable employees and volunteers that help me every day I am there. It is a great place I look forward to going every week."
In her downtime Renee enjoys painting, bible study, ultimate frisbee, waterskiing, and listening to podcasts about her favorite topics
Noah started with HETRA in 2018. Noah grew up around HETRA and enjoys now getting to be in the office helping to coordinate volunteers and help with other administrative tasks.
Noah especially enjoys the instances where he gets to go down and help in the arena, seeing the smiles on the participant’s faces. When Noah isn’t at work he enjoys watching sports especially Husker Football, as well as hunting and fishing.
Diane Bemis, OTR/L
Diane joined the HETRA team in 2006. She became a PATH, Intl. certified instructor in 2012. She has a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy. Diane has also completed the American Hippotherapy Level 1 and Level 2 Courses.
Rita started volunteering with HETRA in 2009, became a PATH, Intl. Certified instructor in 2013, and became our full-time Intake Coordinator in 2015. She has a Bachelor Degree in Education & Human Development from University Nebraska – Lincoln.
Rita also has a Masters Degree in Public Administration from University Nebraska – Omaha, as well as an Associate in Ministry – ECLA Lutheran Church. In her free time, Rita enjoys her grandchildren, working on her stained glass projects, reading, gardening and watching UNL Volleyball!
“My favorite memory at HETRA is watching a young man who on the day of his evaluation would only hide behind him mother when he was brought into the arena. A week later he was able to mount Lady, one of our largest horses and ride with a huge smile on his face.
Watching a young visually impaired rider independently ride her horse for the first time through a set of patterns. Seeing her pride and excitement as she accomplished this.”
“HETRA allows me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our riders. I love working with our riders, watching them achieve different things each week and then watching their smiles and giggles as they realize what they have just accomplished. I also love to watch the interactions between the riders and our horses. How gently our horses can be and how excited our riders are to see their horse each week. I also love the opportunity to work with their families and of course the great volunteers who have such a passion for our riders and the horses.”
Mercedes Branick, OTR/L
Mercedes has been a volunteer at HETRA for eight years and a therapist for just over one year. She has a Masters of Occupational Therapy, Bachelors of Science in Rehabilitation Studies and a Minor in Psychology from the College of Saint Mary.
"I love being able to use the gifts of Occupational Therapy and horses in the same setting to provide treatment for a wide range of reasons! I have been blessed to grow with HETRA over the years. I love working for an organization who supports me as an individual and therapist. One of the most rewarding parts of HETRA is hearing from parents that their child made visible improvements on certain deficits we had been working on. I love using a unique method of therapy to address deficits in new and different ways. Some riders come to learn new skills, some ride to heal or develop, and some ride to find the joy in life and I love to be a part of any journey!"
On her personal time Mercedes enjoys traveling, hiking, DYI projects, photography and spending time with family.
Shauna joined the HETRA team in 2018 as Instructor. She received her degree from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She enjoys spending time with family, showing miniature horses, being a horse show and gymnastics mom.
Lindsey joined HETRA in December of 2018 as the Facilities Manager. She earned a degree in Animal Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Millard, NE.
Lindsey’s hobbies and interests are hanging out with friends at the lake enjoying a good bonfire, learning about how to work on her various vehicles, and attending diesel truck events throughout the U.S. every year.
“I love working with the people here at HETRA. They’re all so welcoming and helpful with my transition into my position.”
Tom joined the HETRA team in 2002 as a Volunteer. He became a PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor in 2004, earned his PATH, Intl. Driving Certification in 2004 and his Equine Specialist in Mental Health Certification in 2014.
In 2007 Tom was awarded the PATH, Intl. Sis Gould Driving Award. Tom has a Bachelor Degree from Chadron State College. Tom has presented at numerous PATH, Intl. Region 7 Conferences. In his free time Tom enjoys Horseback Riding, Cycling, and playing the guitar.
“I love working with the positive people who make up our staff and volunteers, plus helping and interacting with our students.”
Angie joined the HETRA team in 2017. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Kansas State University. In her spare time Angie enjoys traveling, hiking, coffee and crosswords, and being a horse Mom.
“Contributing to the development and achievement of the participants at HETRA not only allows me to help them but also their parents who have challenges far greater than mine. My work at HETRA puts my life in perspective on a daily basis. My favorite HETRA memory will always be the first time my assigned participant took my hand and held on while waiting to begin their session. I learned then that unspoken words can create a dialogue far deeper than conventional communication and it has become a highlight of my week.”
Lucy is a 2014 graduate of Kansas State University where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Equine Certificate. She is will finish her Master of Public Health in May of 2019 at UNMC.
A former HETRA Volunteer, Lucy brings with her a wealth of knowledge. She has experience has an Agricultural Center Assistant, Veterinary Assistant, and was Student Program Coordinator at K-State.
Lucy aspires to become PATH Int’l certified instructor.
Cassidy Fredrickson, OTR/L
Cassidy joined the HETRA team in 2015. She has a Bachelor's in Rehabilitative Studies, with a Minor in Psychology and a Masters in Occupational Therapy from the College of Saint Mary. Cassidy is also a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor. She has won the Who’s Who Among Students award as well as being a member of the Kappa Gamma Pi – National Catholic College Graduate Honor Society.
"I love being a part of HETRA and being able to make a difference in my participant’s lives. Seeing my participants grow in confidence and accomplish a new skill is always very rewarding. Being a part of HETRA has also allowed me to grow in my own confidence, horsemanship skills and leadership skills that I am able to take and use in all aspects of my life."
When Cassidy isn’t at the barn she can be found hiking and disc golfing with my dog and boyfriend, spending time with friends.
Jessica Hatch, OTR/L
Jessica joined the HETRA team in 2009. She has attended the American Hippotherapy Level 1 and Level 2 Courses. Jessica graduated in 2010 from Creighton University with her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.
Jessica’s passion for occupational therapy lies in the field of pediatrics, of which she has spent the majority of her career. She currently works full-time for Lincoln Public Schools and you can find her in the barn at HETRA on Saturday mornings. She spends most of her free time hanging out with her husband and their three children (ages 2, 4, and 8). Her favorite hobbies include refinishing furniture, photography, and traveling.
“I love being a part of the amazing team at HETRA. It never gets old seeing the pure joy on my riders’ faces as they accomplish a goal they have worked so hard for. Parents tell me that their children have learned so much by coming to HETRA but the reality is that they have taught me so much more.”
Life Skills Coordinator & Mental Health Therapist
Kelli Hatzenbuehler, PLMHP
Kelli comes to HETRA with a Masters in Social Work from University of Nebraska Omaha. She is also a Master Resilience Trainer, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training Master Trainer, Master Sergeant in the Nebraska Army National Guard.
Kelli has four active kids so there isn’t much time for hobbies. I do enjoy watching them participate at their sports, riding horse, and reading.
My favorite memory at HETRA thus far was working a Stall and Treat event a few years back and dressing up our minis in homemade tutus with fairy wings. They were a hit!
I love people, I love horses, and I love the relationship and bonds that involve both. HETRA was a perfect fit!
Joshua has an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies from Iowa Western Community College as well as a Bachelors in Science in Legal Studies from Bellevue University.
In Joshua’s spare time he is a fiction author, movie enthusiast and comic collector (big Batman fan).
As a military veteran, as well as someone who adores non-profit work, I truly appreciate the services that HETRA offers and the impact it has on the community. The workers and the volunteers here at HETRA have an immense amount of passion when it comes to this kind of work. It’s easy to get caught up in that passion, and I’m proud to contribute to the overall mission of improving the lives of others.
Kaitlann King, OTR/L
Teresa joined the HETRA team in 2004 as a Volunteer, and received her PATH, Intl. Instructor Certification in 2008. She has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Civil Engineering from South Dakota State University.
In her free time Teresa enjoys Running, Hiking and Camping.
“I love the reactions from the participants, families, and volunteers when a goal is reached, no matter how big or small. The people and horses involved in the program help me keep perspective about the priorities in life.”
Chris Monestero, BSOT
Chris joined HETRA in December, 2017 as an instructor. She is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with a background in postural disorganization and sensory processing disorders.
Chris opened Theraplayce Early Intervention center in 1991 to provide both therapy and special needs childcare in a least restrictive environment.
“At HETRA, I am learning how horses personalities, gait patterns and temperaments combine with individual students for the most beneficial approach to achieving student goals. I love how HETRA offers a fun and unique setting combining horses and students to increase individual skills.”
In her free time, Chris enjoys yard work and spending time with her horses and grandchildren.
Leslie Norman, LMHP, LIMHP, LCSW
Leslie joined the HETRA team in 2015. She has a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from the University of Missouri, Columbia, a Master of Arts in Guidance and Counseling from University of Missouri, Columbia. She also has a Masters in Social Work from University Nebraska, Omaha.
Leslie is also Certified in Dialectics Behavior Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitation Reprocessing, Critical Incidence Training and Marriage and Family Counseling.
In her free time Leslie enjoys Hiking, Exercising, Biking, Fishing, Outdoor Activities, Volunteering in the Jewish Community, Reading and Traveling.
“It has always been a childhood dream to be around horses since I never was able to own one so being able to have such close contact with them is truest a dream come true for me. Also since my early professional life I worked with kids with special needs it seemed like a great fit for me.”
Audrey Sherman, OTR/L
Audrey completed her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from the College of Saint Mary. She has worked as an Occupational Therapist in many different settings including; hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation units, acute and subacute facilities, skilled nursing and mental health.
She also worked in the school system setting prior to becoming a therapist where she assisted in the special education department and community integration program, as well as working in the therapy department in elementary schools.
She has always loved horses and owned her own horse for many years. Her favorite activities with horses always involved speed- particularly barrel racing. Audrey was involved with a riding program in South Dakota as a board member and helped launch the therapy program at their facility. Audrey has completed both the Level I and Level II hippotherapy certification courses and she is a member of both the American Hippotherapy Association (AHA) and Path International.
Audrey has really enjoyed working at HETRA and getting to know the other amazing HETRA staff, the riders and horses! HETRA offers a perfect combination of two things Audrey is very passionate about; horses and helping people achieve their goals.
When she’s not working with riders at HETRA, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids. Audrey also loves reading, playing tennis, skiing, volunteering and spending time with friends.
Program Manager, PATH Certified Instructor, Therapist, ESMHL
Katherine Smith, OTR/L
Katherine joined the HETRA team in 1995, and received her PATH, Intl. Instructor Certification in 2001. She has a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from University of Kansas. She has also passed the American Hippotherapy Level 1 and Level 2 Courses.
In 2009 Katherine received the UNMC Service Learning Experience Award in 2009. She has also presented numerous times at the PATH, Intl. Region 7 Conference. In her free time Katherine loves spending time with her grandchildren.
“HETRA provides unlimited opportunities to be of service. Broadening my career as an Occupational Therapist and combining that with my love of horses allows me to live my dreams. And my involvement at HETRA has given me long standing friendships with people, mostly women, who I admire and learn from and who keep me young as I strive to keep up with them.”
Lisa joined the HETRA team in 2001 as a volunteer, and received her PATH, Intl. Instructor Certification in 2009. Lisa presented at the 2013 PATH, Intl. Region 7 Conference.
“I love working with the participants and witnessing their progress as we work on their riding skills. Maybe my new participant is quiet and shy but once they arrive it’s all about their horse and what games we are going to play all while improving their speech by telling their horse to walk on or just sitting up tall & strong in the saddle. I also enjoy getting to know my student’s parents and watching as their faces light up when their son or daughter laughs with joy as they ride past them during their lesson”
Rachelle joined HETRA in December of 2018 as the Volunteer Coordinator.
“I love to ride and look forward to having horses on my own property. I volunteer with the Douglas-Sarpy 4-H program and I cherish my 4-H friends more than anything; they are truly an extension of my family.
I have worked with sheep and cattle, rabbits and chicken and found them to be some of the greatest teachers of patience and perseverance. I believe my talent is “I just don’t quit”. My family and I foster cats for Wags to Riches of Omaha and have rescued our share of the “broken”. We joke that we have an old Beagle and a three-legged cat. Those who know us say “that sounds about right”. I believe life is to be lived and loved to the fullest!”
“In order for us to have the most positive impact, we need to have teamwork from our participants and their families, our staff, and our volunteers. Even the horses need to feel like they are part of the team! I firmly believe that the core of the program (from leadership down) is a deep desire to better the lives of others and ourselves. My job allows me to have a relationship with all team members, even down to those oh-so-cute mini’s. I want to be sure that all team members have the opportunity to bring their best, do their best and be their best – together.”
Jen joined the HETRA team in 2003 as a Volunteer and received her PATH, Intl. Instructor Certification in 2007. Jen has received her EMT Basic and EMS Instructor Certification from Creighton University, as well as her Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice from Metropolitan Community College.
She is a National Registered EMT-IV and an EMS Instructor. In 2013 Jen received the PATH, Intl. Region 7 Instructor of the Year Award as well as the Cedar Bluffs EMT of the year in 2013 and 2015 . Jen has presented at numerous PATH, Intl. Region 7 Conferences. In her free time Jen enjoys being a volunteer Firefighter and EMT, photography, graphic art, training & trail riding with her 2011 Arabian mare.
“One of my proudest moments as an Instructor was working with a student who came into my classes from the Therapy program and working with her over the course of 4+ years as she grew as a rider in led lessons with 2 sidewalkers to riding without sidewalkers. She then soon began riding independent and excelled to the point of riding at the canter.”
“I enjoy being able to teach riders from led lessons into independent riding lessons – watching their faces as they are able to be on their own riding is priceless. Their self-confidence shows through ear-to-ear smiles as they control their horse entirely themselves.”
Shelby started volunteering with HETRA in 2010 and became a PATH, Intl. Certified instructor in 2015. She has a Bachelor Degree in Animal Science – Equine Science from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
Shelby is the PATH, Intl. Nebraska State Chair and the PATH, Intl. Region 7 Treasurer. Shelby Presented at the 2016 PATH, Intl. Region 7 Conference on Long Lining to Condition the Therapy Horse, and in 2017 on Sustaining the Therapy Horse. In her free time Shelby enjoys working with her own horses, Dexter, Stoney and Luna and playing with her dog Bruce.
“As the Horse Manager- I can’t possibly pick a favorite HETRA Horse! They are all so different and bring so much talent and uniqueness to our herd. I will say that Red and Lady seem to develop the strongest bonds with their riders. Red is such a social horse and is always the first to greet you when you enter the barn. Lady has such a kind eye and an old soul. She defines “gentle giant!” My favorite pastime is to watch all the horses play together out in the paddocks!”
“It is so rewarding to watch our participants bond with the horses and to see the horses help them reach their goals! Plus- I love everything to do with horses! When I am not working with the HETRA Herd, I am with my own horses. How lucky am I that I get paid to do what I love!?”