Edye Godden serves as the Chief Executive 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 as well as 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 other 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.
“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 which 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
Board Development and Management
Staff Development and Management
Erin started working at HETRA in 1996, and has served many roles in the organization, from Instructor to Horse Manager, Volunteer Coordinator, Finance & Administrative Manager, and now the Chief Operating Officer. She has been a PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor since 2000. Erin has her Bachelor of Science in Equine Science from Colorado State University.
Erin also completed the Salesforce Admin 101 Course in 2009, and has enjoyed working with other centers setting up database systems for their organizations. Erin was nominated and received the honor of being elected the PATH, Intl. Region 7 Representative. She represented 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, 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!”
Areas of Expertise:
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
PATH, Intl Certified Instructor
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.
Areas of Expertise:
Day to day session scheduling
Master puzzle solver
Therapist, PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor, ESMHL, Project Coordinator
Diane Bemis, OTR/L
Diane joined HETRA Team in 2006 and became a PATH Intl Certified Instructor in 2012 and completed Amer. Hippotherapy Assoc. Levels 1 and 2. Diane is an Occupational Therapist and Program Manager of the Life Skills Programs. She has worked as an OT in a wide variety of settings from pediatrics to geriatrics. She has extensive training in orthopedic manual therapies, seating and mobility adaptives, home modifications, and certified brain injury specialist.
Diane enjoys exploring in her kayak or hiking unknown trails usually with her pup.
Areas of Expertise:
Rita Borgstadt joined HETRA in 2009 as a Volunteer. In 2014 she became a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor and then was certified as PATH Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. In 2016 she joined the HETRA team full-time working as the Participant Intake Coordinator as well as continuing to teach riding lessons. She also works with a team of volunteers monthly training Grooming and Tacking to HETRA Volunteers.
Rita graduated from UNL with a Bachelors's Degree in Elementary Education and Human Development and then received her Masters in Public Administration from UNO.
Before coming to HETRA Rita worked for several nonprofit organizations working with troubled youth and individuals with Special Needs. I really enjoy working with people and make a difference for others, especially young people.
In her spare time, Rita enjoys gardening, traveling, spending time with her family, and especially being with her grandchildren.
Areas of Expertise:
Intake of Potential and New Participants
Miniature Horse Appearances
Adaptive Riding Instruction
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.
Areas of Expertise:
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 Expertise:
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.
Areas of Expertise:
PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor
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
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.
Areas of Expertise:
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.”
Equine Operations Manager, PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor, ESMHL
Shelby Winnail joined the HETRA team as a volunteer in 2010 and as a full time staff member in 2015 after graduating with her degree in Animal Science- Equine Option from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Shelby is HETRA’s Equine Operations Manager and a PATH Intl. CTRI, ESMHL, and Mentor.
Shelby has spent all of her life dedicated to the equine industry and still enjoys raising and showing Palomino Quarter Horses in her free time. Shelby is passionate about keeping HETRA’s herd “Healthy, Happy, Sane, and Sound” and is driven to share her knowledge with others in the industry through education.
Areas of Expertise:
- Equine Intake Procedures
- Equine Retirement/ Dismissal Procedures
- Desensitization of our Equine Partners
- Implementation of New Equines into Services
- General Management of EAS Equines
- Volunteer Horse Leader Education
- Implementation of New Volunteer Horse Leader Techniques
- Saddle Fit
- Development of a Volunteer Conditioning Program
Program Manager, PATH, Intl. Certified Instructor, Therapist, ESMHL
Katherine Smith, OTR/L
Katherine Smith, OTR/L received her Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Kansas. She came to HETRA after working in hospitals, nursing homes, and private therapy clinics. HETRA became a passion for Katherine on the first day back in 1995. Having just purchased her first horse a year prior, she became involved with HETRA as a side walker and quickly joined Edye Godden, OTR/L (now the CEO of HETRA) in treating children with disabilities using horses. Katherine is now the Program Manager having worked in many different capacities as HETRA developed and grew over the years. Katherine has completed the American Hippotherapy Association Level I and II courses, has maintained certification as a therapeutic riding instructor for many years, and received ESMHL certification several years ago.
For a number of years during HETRA’s growth, Katherine managed one of the facilities that housed half of the HETRA program. That experience has been invaluable in providing a “big picture” understanding of the many facets of providing therapy using horses. From the care of the horses, maintenance of the property, safety considerations in all kinds of weather, to the management of families and volunteers in addition to actual treatment of our participants.
Grateful that HETRA now has our own facility and very competent full-time staff to manage the many jobs this requires, Katherine is able to be involved in helping to develop the additional programming we now offer. With more therapists doing treatment she is available to do more program development, evaluations, training of staff, managing the Medical Advisory Board, participating in research efforts, and a few webinars and podcasts.
Katherine continues to work as an Occupational Therapist in the community. After years of treating injured workers, she is now providing ergonomic services to major employers to prevent injuries. Knowledge of body mechanics, lifting techniques, workers compensation, and litigation are just some of the areas of interest and experience she brings to her work at HETRA.
“One of the joys of being on this planet for this long is having grandchildren. My daughter is an Army wife, married to a Major and they have 2 daughters. In order to spend time with them I have to travel to wherever they’re stationed. Right now, they’re in Texas. Although I’m blessed to live in a time when we can pick up a phone as see the person we’re talking to almost anywhere in the world, I’d still rather do a road trip !”
Areas of Expertise:
Recruitment and training of therapists
Safety: preventative strategies for office and barn
Encouraging involvement with the local medical community
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.”