It’s been a year of honors for Farmingdale horsewoman Jeanne Vuyosevich. In November, 2016, she was presented with the prestigious Spirit of the Horse award by the Rutgers Equine Science Center. Less than a year later, she received the Rutgers Monmouth 4-H Alumni Award for her many years of service to 4-H.
The alumni association held a covered dish supper in the new county agriculture department building on Kozlowski Road in Freehold. Vuyosevich started in 4-H at age 16, back in 1972. “We used to meet in two rooms on Court Street,” in Freehold, recalled Vuyosevich. She was glad to see two tables full of young people, under age 25, at the dinner — the future of 4-H leadership. There were plenty of old friends on hand, and Vuyosevich said they had a lot of fun talking about the good old days.
Her first club was the Chapel Hill Trailblazers in Middletown, where members learned not only about horses but about public speaking and keeping records books. While there, she wrote a workbook for kids who didn’t have horses of their own. She remembers the group setting up window displays at local businesses to promote 4-H and lots of other activities.
By the late ‘70s, Vuyosevich was the leader of the Knight Riders 4-H Club, and also the co-leader of the Monmouth County Veterinary Science Club. She remained a 4-H leader for the next 26 years, all while training racehorses and running her foaling operation at Sunset Meadow Farm.
Meg Garrity Whitehouse, of Farmingdale, N.J. was a co-leader with Vuyosevich in the Monmouth Veterinary Science Club. “Some of our best memories would be exhibiting at the Monmouth County Fair, which was held at Freehold Raceway in the infield. We would stable or horses in the barns at the racetrack and cross over Route 9 on the bridge to show the horses. Jeannie was always upbeat and a full calendar of events for the 4-Hers to participate in. She truly deserves the award as alumni of the year because she embodies the 4-H spirit of making the best better.”
Friends remember the impact Vuyosevich had on 4-H and on their lives:
“Best times of my life in 4-H! Jeanne was awesome and we did so many fun things! Without a doubt, she taught us all how important it was to love and have fun with our horses.” — Sharon Todd Huston, Colts Neck, N.J.
“Jeanne and I were in 4-H together as kids. She was everyone's big sister, cheered everyone on and asked for nothing in return. If you needed something, she'd find a way to help you get it. She always set a strong example for us younger kids to look up to. I've known her for 50 years, we've never had a cross word between us. She always set a positive and enthusiastic mind set for all of us, we all loved her, still do. — Kim Nordstrom Peary, Middletown, N.J.
“I was actually a leader in another club when she was a leader. We had great times together and Jeanne was always willing to help everyone and share her knowledge with everyone and anyone. If you were willing to learn she was willing to teach. She helped me with setting my club up and doing talks and demonstrations for my kids!” — Beth Donoghue, Farmingdale, N.J.
“Jeannie was one of my 4-H leaders and riding instructors. She always made sure were being safe, for us and the horses. There was no fooling around when it was time to ride. Yes, we had lots of fun and learned a ton but there was a time and a place. We enjoyed going to her farm to see the foals and other animals. She was always willing to help, especially with the tough ones. She taught us that just riding wasn’t enough, you needed to spend time on the ground to really understand and listen to the horses, watch and listen and they will tell you what they need. We kids didn’t realize it, but it was really the horses listening to that we needed too when we were just together. We had the best times. I had a special pony, we used to joke about ‘Olivia,’ and ‘Skippy Doodles,’ her lesson pony, being one of a kind. They took care of us kids in ways I can’t explain and taught us all the time. They never let us get too proud — which was something Jeanne knew we all needed. It's ok to be proud of what you have accomplished and worked hard for but not just because you won today. It was very important to Jeannie for her kids to work hard to achieve their goals, on horses and in life. She knew that things that come easy aren't as special. You never realize how many life lessons you are learning at the barn. We always knew we were special to her and that she was proud of our achievements. She was always — and still is — looking out for all her kids. After college I started working at the track. It was great to get to talk to her regularly again, even if it was just a quick hello. You knew she was always keeping an eye on you.” — Amy Grega Barker, Tennessee
“In 4-H, we had riding clinics from top riders, gymkhanas, a drill team, and hosted a yearly horse show. Jeanne was more than just a 4-H leader. She's been mentor, coach, teacher, and my life-long friend. The things we learned in 4-H have served me well through the years. We learned horse care, showmanship, how to be a leader, and how to give to others. I love that woman and appreciate all she has shared with me through the years.” — Sandra Gillen Vogel, Florida
I became involved in 4-H through Jeanne. I was eight years old, a kid with a pony, and I became very inspired by her enthusiasm and her love and knowledge of horses. I lived on my family's farm where Jeanne managed, so I had the great opportunity of being around her daily. She was a hard working young girl managing a New Jersey thoroughbred breeding and foaling farm, but always made time for 4-H leadership and fun. Jeanne demonstrated to her 4-H kids that through hard work, a dedication to learning, and a sense of humor, you can achieve great things. She made you want to learn from her example. I truly believe that my seven years in the Chapel Hill Trailblazers helped shape who I am today and laid the groundwork for the work ethic I put forth into my family, my work, my philanthropy, my sports, and my future goals. I honestly attribute much of this to my 4-H leader and long time friend Jeanne!" — Holly Boylan Flego, Colts Neck, N.J.
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