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NEWS

Jan. 27, 2004

RSU Launches Equestrian Center, Bit By Bit Fundraising Campaign

Rogers State University has announced it will begin a $2 million fundraising campaign to enhance its equestrian facilities, which serve not only its students but also the surrounding community through a unique equine therapy program for disabled children.

The fundraising campaign was presented this week to the University of Oklahoma's Board of Regents, RSU's governing body.

The campaign intends to raise $1 million to acquire land and construct modern, off-campus equestrian facilities, with another $1 million placed in an endowment to fund operating expenses for the RSU Equestrian Center and the Bit By Bit Therapeutic Riding Center at RSU.

The Bit By Bit program promotes physical and mental health through horseback riding for children and adults with disabilities. The riding sessions and other therapeutic interactions with the horses help improve balance, walking, language and cognitive skills for participating clients. The program serves more than 75 children and adults in northeastern Oklahoma, and 25 children are on the waiting list for services.

The Bit By Bit program is a cooperative effort between RSU and Oologah-Talala Public Schools. One of 11 certified equine therapy centers in the state, Bit By Bit is the only certified program directly affiliated with a university. The program provides opportunities for RSU nursing and behavioral sciences students to gain hands-on experience in equine therapy for the disabled.

The RSU Rodeo Club also uses the equestrian facilities to practice for intercollegiate rodeo competitions, as well as for general club activities.

RSU currently operates equestrian facilities on its Claremore campus in an area that was once located on the edge of the campus grounds. Recent campus construction, including the RSU Student Apartments and the Stratton Taylor Library, has placed the equestrian facilities in the heart of campus. The current location of the equestrian facilities is an important area for future expansion of the Claremore campus.

Moving the equestrian facilities to an off-campus location would allow the university additional space for future expansion, provide modern facilities to support the equestrian programs, and provide a secure location to ensure the animals' well being, said RSU President Dr. Joe Wiley.

The proposed RSU Equestrian Center would include an expanded indoor arena; an improved mounting area to assist clients in mounting a horse; a classroom with one-way observational viewing for parents, students, and others; increased stall space and turn-out areas; storage and tack areas; an administrative office; a waiting area with two ADA-complaint restrooms; and other features. An outdoor arena is also planned.

For more information on the RSU Equestrian Center and Bit By Bit fundraising campaign, please call the RSU Office of Development at (918) 343-7773.