Herndon named a FHBCH “Volunteer of the Year”

Published 5:28 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tom Herndon’s name can now be found on a plaque in the Mercer County Cooperative Extension Service office for his unwavering volunteer work with Fort Harrod Back Country Horsemen — a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s backcountry. 

Herdon was tied for “Volunteer of the Year” with another member of the organization, Charmaine Kern from Harrodsburg. 

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The group helps maintain local trails and works to ensure that public lands remain open for recreational stock use, as well as trail maintenance and education of horse-related activities. In addition, they also sponsor chainsaw safety, first aid, CPR and other safety classes that benefit those who enjoy the backcountry with or without equine participation. 

The Fort Harrod Chapter is part of the Kentucky Backcountry Horsemen, which is in turn part of the Backcountry Horsemen of America. Herndon said that the Fort Harrod chapter has 75 members from half a dozen surrounding counties.

Herndon, who has lived in Nicholasville since 1978, said his love of horses goes back to his early 20s, and he has been trail riding since 1985 and joined FHBCH in 2009. Within the year, he was named treasurer and director for the organization, according to a press release from Fort Harrod Back Country Horsemen. He remained as treasurer and director for six years, setting up the organization’s accounting and email systems. 

“I kinda did the back office work that nobody wants to fool with,” Herndon said. He said that the award was more for helping out as needed over the years. His volunteer work has included leading trail rides and helping with fundraising cookouts, as well as taking photographs at events for the group.

“Fort Harrod Back Country Horsemen generally presents one Volunteer of the Year award each year,” said Emily Dennis, Harrodsburg FHBCH chapter president. “When the board realized the vote for the award had ended in a tie between Tom Herndon and Charmaine Kern, we were relieved. Tom has been with Fort Harrod BCH since the beginning. He spent a lot of time developing our bookkeeping and email list.” 

“I was totally shocked,” Herdon said of his win. “It was a total surprise when they announced my name.”

Herndon is also an active community member, serving as treasurer for Jessamine Christian Church, and treasurer and director of the Rotary Club of Nicholasville and Kentucky Back Country Horsemen. He and his wife, Dee, live on a small farm in Jessamine County with two horses, a 20-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse and a 15-year-old Spotted Saddle Horse. 

“We’re all getting old together,” Herdon said with a laugh.

Herndon said that while he doesn’t keep track or tally the amount of time he volunteers with the group, the national group as a whole reports 304,000 volunteer hours working on public land.

“I don’t golf and don’t hunt, I trail ride and fool with horses,” Herndon said.