Mary Jo Beckman received the 2011 PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award at our national conference on November 11th.
LTR nominated instructor Mary Jo Beckman for this prestigious award, and we were thrilled that she was selected from a group of outstanding nominees!
“The growth of the equine-assisted activities and therapies industry continues to grow at dramatic rates. It is the untiring commitment of professionals in the industry that has spurred this growth and the credibility and visibility that our pursuits with equines and the participants with disabilities and amazing abilities continue to earn. The James Brady Professional Achievement Award recognizes the contributions made by these professionals (occupational therapists, physical therapists, educators, psychologists, riding instructors, executive, program coordinators and others) to the field.
The award is presented annually in the name of James Brady by Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) to a professional who has made a contribution to the industry. Contributions have been, but are not limited to, areas such as research, publication, public relations or program development.”
Mary Jo’s Bio – taken from the PATH Intl. website: (pictured here with Ross Braun – left and husband Bob Beckman – right)
When it comes to working with PATH Intl., there isn’t much that Mary Jo Beckman hasn’t done. She started as a volunteer in 1994 and is now a certified master instructor as well as a driving instructor. She is a PATH Intl. lead faculty and evaluator, preparing future instructors for certification. She is also a lead visitor, ensuring that centers meet PATH Intl. standards for accreditation. She has served on numerous committees and serves on the board of directors for Therapeutic Riding Association of Virginia.
But perhaps the thing that we know Mary Jo best for and what beats closest to her heart is her work with PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes. Herself a retired Navy Commander, she co-founded the Caisson Platoon program with Army Command Sergeant Major Larry Pence, which provided therapeutic riding lessons at Ft. Myer, VA, for wounded military and civilians receiving treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The program started as “recreational” therapy, but the results were so impressive that after only four sessions, it became one of the physical therapy options available to those at Walter Reed. It is now in its sixth year, with Mary Jo conducting each lesson as the instructor.
After connecting with the Caisson Platoon, learning about the work at ROCK in Texas and inspired by Mary Woolverton’s work with Vietnam War veterans, Mary Jo became focused—some might say obsessed—with providing EAAT services to veterans. She was not content to provide therapeutic riding experiences to veterans at Walter Reed. She envisioned providing EAAT to veterans of all ages throughout the United States. Through much work with the PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes Task Force, Mary Jo’s vision became reality in 2007, and today there are approximately 90 centers around the nation working with their local VA offices to provide services, and more than 125 additional riding centers have inquired about how to start a program. There are more than 260 members on the Horses for Heroes list-serve, two high-quality international pre-conference workshops and a number of regional workshops and educational events. She regularly connects with Veterans Affairs administrators, medical professionals and volunteers across the country, propelling PATH Intl. and EAAT into all major media outlets across the globe.
As much as PATH Intl. is the voice of the EAAT field, Mary Jo is the voice of PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes and is the “go-to” person for answering questions about how to implement and sustain a program working with wounded military and veterans. She not only answers questions from centers but also coordinates efforts across the country, meeting with members of Congress and the Veterans Administration to help facilitate funding for all PATH Intl. Horses for Heroes services.
Through her efforts to serve both the veteran community and the EAAT field, she has brought additional international visibility and credibility to PATH Intl. Her contributions and untiring commitment make her the well-deserving recipient of the 2011 PATH Intl. James Brady Professional Achievement Award.