Edye Godden, OTR/L, HPCS – Executive Director
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 Bevington – Finance & Administrative Manager
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!”
Lisa Shkolnick – Development Specialist
Lisa started working at HETRA in 2014. She has a Bachelor in Science in Elementary Education. Lisa has been working with Non-Profit organizations for over 20 years in programming, staff management and development.
“If you’re standing on the ground, observing a HETRA session in progress, watching the therapist and volunteers working with the participant and horse, it can look . . . easy. That’s because they do what they do very well. But it’s not that easy. My favorite HETRA memory is when I first started in my position in 2014 and was invited to participate in a mock session to train one of the horses. Standing on the mounting block, watching my horse approach with precision and patience while I nervously and awkwardly managed to get myself on the horse . . . WOW. I had a new and profound respect for our participants. This was big! There is so much going on in a 30 minute session, things to pay attention to, like posture, balance, staying centered, not to mention giving proper cues to your horse to get him to move through the different activities in the arena; it was an awakening. I could experience what it feels like for our participants on the horse. I could feel the muscle groups targeted for the different exercises our participants work through. I was there to help train a horse, but it was I who got trained, and I’ll never forget that.”
“Every day, I get the pleasure of raising awareness about our HETRA Staff, therapists, volunteers, and participants, and raising the necessary funds to support our mission. Whether speaking to businesses, men’s and women’s groups, corporations, or a family or volunteer interested in starting at HETRA . . .you can see people “light up” when they learn there is a place like HETRA serving individuals and families with disabilities in such a unique form of therapy. It’s incredibly rewarding to share the experience of HETRA with the community. . . there is really nothing quite like it.”
Shelby Winnail – Horse Manager
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!?”
Rita Borgstadt – Participant Intake Coordinator
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, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from University Nebraska – Omaha. She also has 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.”
Chris O’Callaghan – Facility & Specialty Program Coordinator
Chris joined the HETRA team in 2016. He has a Degree from University Nebraska – Lincoln and is a QPR Certified Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Instructor. I worked in the communications construction industry for 30 years as a project manager, project estimator, general manager, and business owner. Being able to use my experience to support this organization is more satisfying than I can put into words. In his free time, Chris enjoys fishing, hiking, boating, and family quality time.
“One of my favorite experiences at HETRA occurs weekly. My son gets excited as we get near the barn. He is very excited to see the staff and volunteers. And once he is on horseback I see that he is focused on correct posture and completing the tasks requested. As a parent of a long time HETRA participant, I have always been in awe of the therapists, instructors, and volunteers. I love that there is always the challenge to achieve the best therapy possible for HETRA clients. Being a part of this team and helping to ensure this service continues for our clients makes coming to the barn a joy.”
Angie Drew – Communications and Administrative Specialist
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.”
Lindsey Celesky – Facilities Manager
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.
Her 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.”
Rachelle Tidwell – Volunteer Coordinator
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.”
Diane Bemis, OTR/L – Instructor & Therapist
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. Diane is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist and certified in CAPS Home Modifications. In her free time, Diane enjoys Kayaking, Hiking, Sculpture, and Volunteering.
“I love seeing the smiles and the changes in the students. Working in an environment with so many therapeutic things happening at the same time for the best outcome.”
Tom Cramer – Instructor
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.”
Jill Hallgren – Instructor in Training
Jill joined the HETRA team in 2014. Jill has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. In her free time, Jill enjoys Riding, Yoga, Hiking and Travel.
“My favorite HETRA memory was putting a student on Galaxy for the first time. His (and his mom’s) eyes were as big as saucers when he saw him walk up to the block. This student was used to riding Red, who is a little closer to the ground, but Galaxy is such a great guy the student got over his height issues right away!”
“There is a subtle shift that happens when one does something that they love where they finish in better shape than they started. I find this happens to both myself and the participants. It is what drives my desire to be a better instructor because as a better instructor, I find myself a better person in general.”
Jessica Hatch, OTR/L – Therapist
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. Her 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.”
Teresa Konda – Instructor
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.”
Robin Manning – Instructor
Robin joined the HETRA team in 2008 as a Volunteer and received her PATH, Intl. Instructor Certification in 2012. She received her LPN Certification in 1986 from Metro Tech. In her free time Robin enjoys Camping, Fishing and Horseback Riding.
“My favorite memory is of a student who had physical disabilities and had just advanced to riding independently. The first time she was up and on her own riding she said to me “I feel like a real cowgirl now”. This brought tears to my eyes because I knew she was so happy.”
“I love what I do at HETRA because I like working with people and the horses. I like to watch the progress of my students and love the smiles that come along with it.”
Leslie Norman, LCSW – Mental Health Therapist
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. She 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.”
Lucy Finocchiaro – Development Specialist
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.
Audrey Sherman, OTR/L – Therapist
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.
Katherine Smith, OTR/L – Instructor, Therapist, Program Manager
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 Stillahn – Instructor
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”
Jen Wolsleben – Instructor
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.”
Shauna Byelick – Instructor
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.
“I love HETRA because I can spend the day surrounded by horses and people who love horses. It’s a very special way to to spend a work day. I love the horses and each one has a different personality. It’s a challenge and a privilege to ride and care for them and teach others the same. HETRA horses are suitable for their jobs and wonderful to be around. The array of breeds showcase just how versatile horses can be.”
Angie Balcom, COTA/L – Life Skills Coordinator
Angie joined the HETRA team as a Life Skills Coordinator in January of 2018. She received her Associate of Applied Science Degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant from Central Community College in Grand Island, and is PAMS Certified (Physical Agent Modalities).
She loves riding her motorcycle long distances through beautiful country, with a dream to ride in Germany one day. She loves animals, nature and being outdoors in the sun, and has a genuine appreciation for the beauty in nature and the little things in life. Other passions include camping, traveling and exploration – all of which channel into her free-spirited nature.
“I love being a part of HETRA. It’s such an awesome organization. It makes my heart full knowing that our hearts are in the right place, and how what we do makes such monumental differences in so many lives, from the horses and the students, all the way to the volunteers and the staff. I feel so honored to be part of such a family-like collaborative team. I love how every horse is an individual, just like us! I like observing each one of them and learning who they are and what they are telling us, as well as how our energy relates with their energy.”
Angie is a member of AOTA, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and the National Society of Leadership and Success
Chris Monestero, BSOT – Instructor and Pediatric Occupational Therapist
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.