Edye Godden serves as the Chief Operating Officer at HETRA. She has been with the organization for the past 30 years in various capacities. Along with being the CEO of the organization, she is also an Occupational Therapist, Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning and a Clinical Specialist in Hippotherapy. These other “hats” help keep her well connected to the programming offered at HETRA and give her first-hand experience of the impact HETRA has on the participants we serve. With 30 years of experience in the field of Equine Assisted Services and specifically with HETRA, Edye has assisted in HETRAs growth from a small all-volunteer organization running out of others boarding facilities to where we are today – owning our own facility with a full-time staff of 13. HETRA’s programming includes adapted riding, therapy services, equine services for veterans, life skills, equine-assisted learning, equine-facilitated psychotherapy, corporate retreats, HETRA University (the educational arm including Not Just a Pony Ride, Podcasts, and webinars offered to the greater EAS community) as well as EAS consulting services.
Edye earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Creighton University in 1991. In 2007 she 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, as well as been a presenter or co-presenter on many of HETRA’s webinars.
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 30 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-lifetime 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 30 years have been such an adventure – I can’t wait to see what the next 30 years bring…..”
Areas of Expertise:
Leadership including building an effective and engaged team
Grant Writing and Fundraising
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 Bevington serves as the Volunteer and Administrative Coordinator at HETRA. Noah Joined HETRA in December of 2018. Noah grew up around HETRA and enjoys now getting to be in the office helping to coordinate volunteers and running the day-to-day session schedule. Noah especially enjoys the instances where he gets to go down and help in the arena, seeing the smiles on the participant’s and volunteer’s faces. When Noah isn’t at work he enjoys watching sports especially Husker Football, as well as hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
Noah’s area of consulting
Day to day session scheduling
Master puzzle solver
Therapist, PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor, ESMHL, Project Coordinator
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.
Lindsey Celesky serves as the Facility Manager for HETRA. Lindsey joined HETRA in December of 2018. She earned a degree in Animal Science with an Equine option from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Gretna, NE. Lindsey helps maintain a safe, clean and functioning facility here at HETRA. On the rare occasion that Lindsey isn’t in the barn at HETRA, you can find her enjoying concerts, line dancing, hanging at the lake with her friends around a bonfire, spending time with her family working various jobs alongside them, or attending diesel truck events and shows throughout the U.S. every year.
Lindsey’s area of consulting:
General upkeep/maintenance of equipment
Safety within barn setting
Development of projects
Management of barn maintenance staff/volunteers
Lucy first joined HETRA as a volunteer in 2018 and became HETRA’s Development Specialist in 2019 with a focus on grant writing. She is currently training to become a PATH Intl. certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor and is expected to be fully certified by May, 2021. She particularly enjoys sharing with others the powerful bond that is created between humans and horses through grant writing and public speaking within the community.
Lucy graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor’s of Agriculture in Animal Science & Industry with an Equine Certificate. She then went on to obtain her Master of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center with a focus on Environmental & Agricultural Health, where she obtained the Outstanding Student in Public Health Practice award as well as an award for Outstanding Research Project. Lucy has a special interest in the concept of One Health, the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. She previously served as a Research Assistant at the Central States Center of Agricultural Health. She has also worked in the areas of veterinary medicine and volunteer coordinating.
When Lucy isn’t at HETRA she enjoys spending time with her husband, cat, and rescue dog as well as reading, playing the piano, and horseback riding.
Areas of consulting:
Continued giving campaigns
Angie Connell is the Development Director at HETRA. Angie joined HETRA in February 2021. She comes to HETRA with over 20 years’ experience in event management, planning, and execution of events. Angie was a part of planning many major events such as Olympic Swim Trials, College World Series, and NCAA Basketball and Volleyball tournaments. For the past decade, Angie was an Executive Director for a local non-profit. Her experience combined with her studies at Creighton University and the University of Nebraska Omaha brings new ideas and a unique perspective to HETRA. Angie is an extremely outgoing person who loves to talk to people within the community and is looking forward to getting to know the many families and volunteers at HETRA. When Angie is not working on events she loves spending time with her family, husband Matt, daughter Grace, and son Henry.
Angie’s area of consulting
Event Planning/Execution of events
Non- Profit Management/Communication
Relationship building/ Donor Relations
Building a positive cultures
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.”
PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor & Therapist
Cassidy Fredrickson, OTR/L
Cassidy Fredrickson joined the HETRA team as a volunteer in 2014. Cassidy started working at HETRA in 2018 when she became a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor and now also works as an occupational therapist since 2019. In addition to treating participants in our adaptive riding and therapy services programs, Cassidy is also involved with the Life Skills Program, Job Coaching Program through NE VR, and has been a part of HETRA University where she has created many short educational videos and webinars and co-hosts in “What? How? Why?” shorts apart of “Not Just A Pony Ride” podcast.
Cassidy has a Bachelor's in Rehabilitative Studies, with a Minor in Psychology and a Masters in Occupational Therapy from the College of Saint Mary. She received the Who’s Who Among Students award as well as being a member of the Kappa Gamma Pi – National Catholic College Graduate Honor Society.
When Cassidy isn’t at the barn she can be found hiking, camping, and disc golfing with her dog Odie and boyfriend Jackson and spending time with friends and family.
Cassidy’s Areas of Consulting:
Kelli Hatzenbuehler, PLMHP
Kelli Hatzenbuehler is the Mental Health Therapist and Veteran Program Coordinator at HETRA. Kelli is a 24-year Combat Veteran of the Army National Guard and currently services in the rank of 1SG with the 623rd Engineer Company. She came to HETRA in August of 2019 combining her love of working with horses and helping individuals as a Clinical Social Worker. She obtained her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Kelli has extensive knowledge in the fields of suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention work as well as Resiliency having worked for many years as the Resilience and Risk Reduction, Suicide Prevention Manager for the Nebraska Army National Guard. When she is not working, she enjoys time with her family, husband Wade, and busy kids, Hannah, Hayden, Hunter, and Holton. She also owns a small hobby farm with animals and endless projects.
Kelli’s area of consulting
Working with the Veteran Community
Joshua Howell serves as a Development and Marketing Specialist at HETRA. He designs all of HETRA’s marketing materials, as well as films and editing video content for our different programs. After serving overseas in the United States Air Force, Joshua obtained an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies from Iowa Western Community College, as well as a Bachelors in Science in Legal Studies from Bellevue University. Joshua is a sitting Executive Committee member for the national Public Relations Society of America Employee Communications Section, and has an extensive background in event management and brand management for non-profits in the Omaha area.
In his spare time, Joshua writes fiction novels and graphic novels in multiple genres. Throughout the year, he travels across the states to different comic cons and book fairs to sell his books. He’s also a devoted 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. Everyone from the staff to the volunteers to the horses themselves show an immense amount of passion on a daily basis here on campus. 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.”
Joshua’s areas of consulting:
Adobe Suites (Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere, Audition, etc.)
Kaitlann King, OTR/L
Kaiti King is an occupational therapist and project coordinator for HETRA. She is also working toward achieving her Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor credentials. Kaiti obtained her doctorate degree from Creighton University and has spent the majority of her professional experience in outpatient pediatric therapy settings. In addition to treating participants at HETRA, Kaiti coordinates much of the virtual programming including the release of over 10 successful webinars last year and assisting to launch HETRA’s educational initiative “Not Just a Pony Ride”. Kaiti also enjoys mentoring students that are interested in Equine-Assisted Services including undergraduate as well as professional occupational therapy students. When she is not in the barn at HETRA, you can find Kaiti catching some live music, working with her own young horse Fritz, or back home in western NE helping on her family farm.
Kaiti’s areas of consulting:
Pediatric participant consulting
Undergraduate and Graduate student coordination.
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.”
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, Intl. 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 Operations Manager. Over the past 20 years, she has volunteered at several organizations dedicated to animal welfare, youth and adult services, and youth education and development.
“In order for nonprofit organizations to have the most positive impact in their communities, they must create and nurture a culture where volunteers are valued as an essential part of the organization’s success. Well-trained volunteers who believe in the mission are not only inspired but also empowered to give their very best. My goal is for every volunteer at HETRA to feel accepted and valued as part of our team, to learn more and to apply that knowledge to serve others, and to pursue excellence in everything that they do. I want to provide opportunities for them to bring their best, do their best and be their best – together.”
Areas of expertise:
Volunteer training program development
Volunteer information management
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.”
Equine Operations Manager, PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor, ESMHL
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!?”