Founded in 2010 by Jessica van der Hoek, Prairie Sky is a Registered Charity that provides customized, transformational and life-changing Equine Assisted Therapy programs to individuals facing a range of physical, emotional and social challenges. We are committed to creating a safe and accepting community where participants can be themselves while benefiting from direct equine interactions, and ensure that each participant will find a place in our herd.

Meet The Board

 

Jessica van der Hoek – Founder and President

Jessica grew up in the small Alberta town of Vauxhall and spent much of her childhood as a member of her local 4-H club. As a teenager, she volunteered at the Lethbridge Handicapped Riding Association where her love and passion for therapeutic riding was born.

Jessica founded Prairie Sky in 2010 to address a need in the community for equine therapy, with a vision of offering safe and quality programming that leverages the health benefits that are derived from working with horses. She is driven by a relentless desire to help individuals tackle their challenges. and reach their full potential, while creating a space where people can visit and feel part of a community. Jessica is proud of what Prairie Sky has become and is rewarded with witnessing the progress that riders make, as they grow and become more independent.

Jessica graduated from Portage College and works as a Paramedic for Alberta Health Services. Jessica also holds a Certified Horsemanship Association - Instructor for Riders with Disabilities Level 1 Certificate.

Kerry Sherman – Vice-President

Kerry was introduced to Prairie Sky in 2013 when she joined the organizations volunteer team, and subsequently, the Board of Directors shortly thereafter. Horses have always been a part of Kerry’s life, growing up taking jumping lessons and later guiding trail rides in both Kananaskis and northern England. She believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to benefit from the therapy a horse can provide.

Kerry was born and raised in Calgary and graduated from the University of Calgary with a degree in Economics.

Sara Furse - Secretary

Sara’s true passion lies in her connection with people in her career and in life, and has had a life-long love for all animals - in particular horses, beginning when she started riding at the age of 8. Sara brings strong business acumen to the Board of an organization that incorporates her love of people and the horse, and promotes the natural ability of animals to assist with physical and mental challenges.

Sara Furse graduated from Mount Royal University with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, majoring in both General Management and Supply Chain Management. Her career has been focused in the energy and construction industries.

Jacques Dippenaar - Board Member

A strong advocate for promoting mental health, Jacques is a strong believer in mental health being at the centre of an individual’s well being which impacts all aspects of a person’s life. Throughout the years, he has avidly supported mental health awareness, initiatives and programs, and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Prairie Sky Board. He also brings a depth of accounting knowledge as well as operational insight.

Jacques graduated with degrees in Economics and Accounting from the University of Calgary and University of British Columbia, respectively, and became a Chartered Accountant while articling at Ernst & Young.