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Olivia Bodner – 2021 Merit Scholarship Recipient


(Woodside, CA) August 1, 2021 – The Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) and the Mounted Patrol Foundation (MPF), joint sponsors of the $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award, congratulate Olivia Bodner, recent graduate of Carlmont High School and student at Canada Middle College, on being awarded this scholarship.

Now in its second year of assisting a deserving local high school senior, the $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award supports students with a demonstrated involvement in equestrian activities as well as academic achievement, community service, and financial need. It reflects a continuing commitment shared by WHOA! and MPF, of helping the next generation of equestrians.

“All of this year’s applicants impressed the selection committee with the depth of their involvement in the equestrian community, as well as the quality of their academic achievement and range of community service activities,” remarked Anne Van Camp, Chair of the WHOA! Steering Committee. “The economic difficulties that are challenging many families during the pandemic made awarding this scholarship especially meaningful.”

All applicants were seniors who attended high schools in San Mateo, Santa Clara, or San Francisco Counties, and who had been accepted to and plan to attend a college, university, or other continuing education program this fall.

“The academic, community, and equestrian achievements of the students who applied for the $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award clearly show that the future is bright, both for these students and for the equestrian community,” stated Kip Witter, Mounted Patrol Foundation.

Meet Olivia Bodner
“I am extremely appreciative,” Olivia remarked after learning the $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award would give her a boost into the years of higher education that await her. “It’s exciting to be able to move forward with the help of this scholarship, and I am so grateful to Woodside-area Horse Owners Association and to the Mounted Patrol Foundation! I appreciate what these organizations are doing in the community, not only with this scholarship, but with all their activities.”

Equestrian Activities

Olivia began working at a local horse camp at the age of 11, progressing through increasingly responsible roles as she gained age and experience, culminating in her responsibilities as head instructor.

Eventually, Olivia became a working student at another barn where she is currently responsible for the feeding, care, and management of 15-20+ horses, tacking and untacking horses in training, preparing and packing for shows, holding horses for veterinarians, and more.

“This has been a learning experience in the best possible way, allowing me to learn hands-on from trainers as well as veterinarians,” Olivia explained.

Photo/Matt Petty

Olivia’s own horses have been inspiration for her life goals. The early retirement of her 13-year-old Thoroughbred was a crash course in the science and the expense of his diagnosis and ultimately his retirement lifestyle. That inspired her to pursue a veterinary medicine education, with the goal of pursuing research to develop new approaches in equine orthopedic surgery. Currently, her other horse, a five-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred in its first year of non-track training, provides continuing motivation for Olivia to pursue her goals.

Academic Achievement

Olivia recently graduated Carlmont High School and the Cañada Middle College program, in which she spent her junior and senior high school years at Cañada Middle College in a program that allows students to finish their high school graduation requirements, along with college courses, as dual enrollment students.

Olivia’s academic studies included every AP or honors course available to her, which increased the level of rigor and accelerated the course pace. Her academic awards include a Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Achievement (Precalculus Honors), and she was named a National Merit Commended Scholar.

Music has provided Olivia with another avenue of study. She has played the tenor sax since 4th grade, participating in audition-level band classes through middle and high school, and the College of San Mateo Concert Band until the pandemic halted their performances.

Olivia will be attending the University of California, Davis, this fall as an animal science major, with the long-term goal of becoming an equine veterinarian. An audition for the band at UC Davis is also in her plans.

Community Service

Through her high school’s music mentor program, Olivia has tutored music students in local elementary schools. This voluntary mentoring program provides students the opportunity to receive small group and individual tutoring that they would not otherwise get in their large group band classes. For Olivia, it provided a way to help foster her love of music with others.

Not surprisingly, Olivia has been deeply involved in animal rescue and care. She participated in a two-week animal rescue project in Costa Rica, working in low-income area spay/neuter clinics and at an animal shelter. At the clinic, Olivia provided hands-on help where it was most needed, from handling intake and prepping animals for surgery, to monitoring vital signs through surgery and into recovery. At the shelter, she helped care for the dogs and provided them with daily exercise.

Before Covid closed it down, Olivia began training to work in the SPCA kitten nursery at her local shelter, and also assisted with rehoming kittens that were surrendered while she worked at a large pet food store.

Financial Need

With escalating costs of higher education routinely in the news, it’s no surprise that the costs of a college education are on the minds of most students and their families. Olivia’s three-part plan included the tuition and living expenses component shared by most students, as well as one unique to equestrians: how to afford her horses, as well.

Recognizing the challenges of affording her horses during her college years, Olivia knows she needs to balance her studies, potential internships, working, and riding. She plans to continue working part-time, as she has through high school, envisioning a transfer to the Davis branch of the pet food store where she currently works. Although her family diligently saved for her education “from the day I was born” she says she feels a responsibility to thank them for all their support through the years by working as well.

“This scholarship will make a significant difference in my ability to continue working, learning, studying, and riding whilst studying Animal Sciences on the pre-vet track at my top choice university,” Olivia states. “It inspires and allows me to pursue the best learning opportunities possible in both my education and my riding.”

Sponsoring Organizations

The Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) works independently and in collaboration with other organizations and local government to ensure that the presence of the horse in Woodside and the surrounding San Mateo County communities is recognized, protected, and promoted. Its mission is to preserve the fundamental role of horses in maintaining the rural character of the Town of Woodside and neighboring foothill communities, to enhance opportunities for equestrian activities, and to promote the enjoyment of horses in all their various roles. WHOA! envisions a community where horses and horse activities for equestrians and the general public are appreciated, and where the rural landscape, trail networks, and horse properties are preserved. Operating under the fiscal umbrella of the Woodside Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, WHOA! has gifted more than $200,000 to local equestrian projects and programs thanks to generous sponsors, volunteers, and the proceeds of its annual Woodside Day of the Horse celebration. Find out more at

The Mounted Patrol Foundation believes that horses and equestrian activities have helped create a wonderful, healthy community in Woodside, California, and the surrounding area. Historically, horses were essential to life in the United States for transportation, work, and pleasure. The Mounted Patrol Foundation seeks to honor this legacy by continuing to support, maintain, develop, and encourage equestrian facilities, activities, and heritage in the Town of Woodside, the County of San Mateo, and the State of California. Their vision also includes the preservation of horse habitats and trail systems to provide both opportunities and environments conducive to the enjoyment of horses for horse owners and the public at large. The Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3), charitable organization that works in collaboration with local government, other public agencies, and other non-profits to support and promote equestrian activities and facilities in the area. Learn more at



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