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Oct. 31, 2023

Ploghoft lecture to feature discussion of therapeutic horsemanship

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A special education teacher who works with a Missouri-based therapeutic horsemanship organization will discuss the ways it provides fun, individualized therapeutic riding experiences when Northwest Missouri State University’s School of Education hosts its fall Ploghoft Diversity Lecture.

The lecture with Jordanne Decker of Helping Hands and Horses begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, and will take place outdoors between Bearcat Softball Field and the Wellness Center on the west side of the Northwest campus. It is free and open to the public.

Dr. David Kiene, an associate professor in Northwest’s School of Education, said the lecture will be a hands-on experience that connects with agriculture education students.  

“We are very fortunate to be able to bring Helping Hands and Horses to campus to meet this need,” Kiene said. “I hope students get a better appreciation for the efforts and creativity of those who understand how to work in the best interest of those with special circumstances.”

Decker, of Festus, Missouri, is in her second year as a special education teacher in an autism classroom. Her passion for working with people with disabilities stems from her involvement in Helping Hands and Horses since 2014.

Helping Hands and Horses, located in Festus and certified through SpiritHorse International, is a non-profit therapeutic horsemanship organization for children and adults with disabilities. Therapeutic horsemanship is defined as a range of treatments that involve activities with horses and other equines to promote human physical and mental health.

Decker was honored in 2022 as Missouri Baptist University’s Outstanding Student of Achievement for Cross Categorical Disabilities, and she received the Missouri Baptist University Alumni Association’s Mission in Action Award in 2021.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in cross categorical special education K-12 from Missouri Baptist University as well as multiple certifications. She also is pursuing a master’s degree in education leadership: K-12 at Northwest.

About the Ploghoft Diversity Lecture series

Northwest’s Ploghoft Diversity Lecture series is funded through the lasting generosity of the late Dr. Milton Ploghoft and his wife, Zella. The series features speakers and activities that broaden the educational perspectives of Northwest teacher candidates and inform all students about the issues facing the education of students from diverse environments.

Dr. Ploghoft, a 1949 Northwest alumnus, authored a number of textbooks in the social studies and lived abroad for many years, founding the College of Education in Kano, Nigeria, lecturing at Saigon University and leading its international programs in such places as Chile, Cameroun, Botswana, the Yucatan, Swaziland and in what was then South Vietnam. In 1992, he became the founding editor of the African Education Research Network. He was professor emeritus at Ohio University at the time of his death in 2018.

Zella, who passed away in 2010, completed her elementary and secondary education at Horace Mann Laboratory School at Northwest.

For more information about the Ploghoft Diversity Lecture series, contact Kiene at 660.562.1774 or


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215