Youth of the Year Award


The Youth of the Year Award recognizes youth who demonstrate dedication through volunteer work for a worthy cause. This award is presented annually by the NSBA Foundation to a deserving youth who has gone above and beyond to exhibit exemplary character in helping others through community service. The purpose is to promote and celebrate service work in our youth. The recipient will receive a $4,000 scholarship from the Susan Scott Memorial Fund. In addition to the scholarship, a $500 donation is made to a charity of choice in the winner’s name. Recipients will be featured in a spotlight in The Way To Go magazine and recognized at the annual NSBA Honors Banquet in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Do you know an extraordinary youth who has gone above and beyond for a cause they are passionate about? Applications will become available each spring and are due June 1, 2024.

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Susan Scott Memorial Fund

The Susan Scott Memorial Fund was established to honor Susan’s memory and foster the lifelong skills learned as a youth involved with horses and horse showing. Rewarding young horsemen who give selflessly perpetuates the characteristics most often found in successful individuals, regardless of their career paths. The fund was made possible through the generous contributions garnered from the auction of Susan’s custom-made Harris saddle and memorial contributions made to the NSBA Foundation in Susan’s name. The saddle was donated by Susan’s daughter, Nancy Ditty, along with her husband Seth and son Luke.

Nick Culwell

Nick Culwell, of Louisville, Missouri, Florida, was named the 2023 Youth of the Year Award recipient and third annual recipient of the $4,000 Susan Scott Memorial Scholarship out of five outstanding finalists.

Nick Culwell grew up showing horses and learned about the Equestrians With Disabilities classes while volunteering as a scribe at the Dixie Nationals.

“I learned about the value of these youth activities and how it helps those with disabilities,” he said. “As a scribe, I worked alongside NSBA Judge Dr. Clay Cavinder. From him, I leaned about the MSU Center for Equine Facilitated Mental Health and Wellness and the research they do with Dogwood Equine Connection Therapy Center.

Nick knew his background in breed associations could be valuable to the research, and began as an unpaid research intern working ten hours per week. Nick’s service project centered around Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which Nick has himself. Nick was diagnosed with a language developmental disorder along with ADHD at a young age. His skills improved with equine therapy, and when his brother joined him in riding, he learned that competition helped him keep focused.

“My goal was to assist Dogwood Equine Connect in understanding how these programs may shape the youth they work with and MSU in designing youth extension programs that facilitated positive equine interaction for ‘at-risk’ youth,” Nick explained. Working with the research team, he developed a project that surveyed families about the benefits of youth breed association programs for youth with ADHD. Nick has invested more than two years and more than 600 hours on the project, including designing a survey that was distributed at 12 various youth breed association events. After working with the center to evaluate the data, Nick presented the results at a national conference and published the results in a scientific journal.

Nick is a member of and participated in ABRA, AHA, ARHA, ApHC, AQHA, APHA, PHBA and PtHA as well as NSBA. He served as an officer and director at the state and national level within ApHC, AQHA, PHBA and PtHA.

Nick will begin his college career this fall at East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi, and plans to complete his bachelor’s degree at Mississippi State University, concentrating on communication with a focus in agriculture and leadership. He would like to become a judge and work in the area of public relations and communications to promote the equine industry and horse programs for youth, especially for at-risk youth and those with special needs. Congratulations, and good luck, Nick!

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