419-833-1308 email@example.com 501 C3 non Profit Charity
Meet Our Staff
Amanda Cajka Executive Director Amanda is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist with a master’s degree in recreation administration from The University of Toledo. While earning her undergraduate degree, Amanda spent a summer interning at Serenity Farm. She loved the atmosphere and mission of the farm and is thrilled to be back! She currently lives on a farm just outside of Luckey with her husband and young son. Before becoming a mom, Amanda worked for the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities as a Service and Support Specialist. She is thankful for the opportunity to join the Serenity Farm family!
Deb DeHoff Founder/Operations Manager Surrounded by horses, children, staff and volunteers is where you will find Debra at Serenity working on the farm. The true magic happens wherever the horses are involved with kids and families. “Dad put me on a pony at 5 years old, Miss Princess a little paint Shetland mare, and thus began my life long journey.”
No stranger to working with horses or families, Debra is an Advanced Level equine specialist with EAGALA and also spent several years developing and mentoring for the company with members in the U.S. and other countries. She truly has a passion to work with Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning programs. Debra added certification with the OK Corral organization with a concentration on working with veterans and crisis situation. Receiving certification from PATH, INTL. in 2002 to instruct therapeutic riding, Debra enjoys the arena classroom of clients of all ages, offering fun, engaging lesson plans. Named 2014 PATH certified instructor of the year for our region, she is humbled by the opportunity to work in the field. Working with a diverse population and equine assisted therapy, most of her caseload are those who have been abused, trafficked, and veterans.
An avid student of the Parelli (PNH) method, and also a volunteer for the Parelli Foundation, she enjoys the journey of improving horsemanship skills for herself, the horses, and for the entire therapy center of staff and volunteers. Integrating training methods into lesson plans for riders, advancing volunteer horse handling training and inviting Parelli instructors to the farm are a huge asset to the health and wellness of Serenity Farm horses. Accomplished at Level 1 and 2, Debra is working on levels 3 and 4.
He equine history includes: barrel racing, team penning, cutting, boarding, starting 2-3 year olds, basic beginner lessons for kids and adults, and sports therapy (to include red light, massage, general chiropractic, lay ups).
Maintaining 10 horses for the Serenity Farm non-profit organization is a 24/7 position to ensuring all horses are well cared for and ready for each program when needed. With Debra’s advanced knowledge, Serenity Farm is in good hands for equine details.
Michelle Reiter Associate Director/PATH Certified Instructor With over 25 years of teaching and 35 years of riding experience, certified instructor Michelle Reiter offers a unique combination of talent and passion to the mission of Serenity Farm. “To combine my love for children and horses, that’s the reason I joined the Serenity Farm family,” said Michelle. With undergraduate degrees in Elementary and Special Education, and a Master’s Degree in Reading, Michelle uses her extensive teaching experience to foster stronger relationships with clients. “I started my career as a teacher of developmentally handicapped children,” Michelle states. “That experience guides my interaction with the children and helps me respond to their needs in an understanding and caring way.” Riding horses has been part of Michelle’s life since the age of 10. “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the emotion in a child’s face as they connect with one of the horses. Even more gratifying is seeing the positive emotional reaction of a loving parent.”
Michelle has spent the last few years embracing the Parelli Natural Horsemanship (PNH) method as both a student and a teacher. She has ridden in Jesse Peters' level 2 PNH clinics to improve her horsemanship skills, which enables her to model and integrate those skills into her therapeutic riding classes. These are skills which her students/clients can apply both inside the arena with their equine partner as well as outside the arena. She loves the way that the Parelli method teaches trust and respect, which she implements into her lessons. She enjoys watching her clients play the Parelli 7 Games both on the ground and in the saddle. Michelle also helps to assess and integrate new therapy horses that are entering the Serenity Farm therapeutic riding program. Being able to identify their horsenality helps her find the "best fit" horse for her clients.
Sarah Boerst Occupational Therapist/Hippotherapy Sarah Boerst first started working with people with disabilities in 1994 on a farm that used a function-based intervention model. It was here she not only gained a significant love for working with people, but also saw first-hand the remarkable connection between animals and people. Intervention within the context of this farm-based program allowed all involved (participants, animals, and staff) to work together as partners and possibilities for growth were limitless. The farm was also the first place Sarah learned about occupational therapy as a wholistic clinical service that enables people to live the lives they want and need to live.
In 2003, Sarah earned her Associates of Applied Sciences and became an occupational therapy assistant. In 2014, Sarah returned to school and earned a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from The University of Toledo. Following graduation, Sarah returned to the farm and had the opportunity to work with Serenity Farm on a Barn Program revision project.
Currently, Sarah works as an occupational therapist in a school, several nursing homes, and enjoys incorporating her practical experience into her daily practice. Sarah is also working on a book focusing on a data-driven intervention for people with disabilities using a farmstead model.
Sarah lives in a small rustic cabin with her husband Tim, two teen-aged children, Isaac and Aliza Jayne, her Newfoundland Dog Harbour Joy, her Great Pyrenees Dog, Arlo, and her Great Dane Dog, Luca. Sarah is very excited to officially be on the Serenity Farm Team and will do her best to honor the mission!
Kathleen Warrington Team Thunder Coordinator Kathleen is a retired school teacher. She joined the Serenity Farm Team in 2005. Over the years, she became a barn buddy, side walker, horse handler and team captain in the Therapeutic Riding Program. As the Team Thunder Coordinator she organizes visits to many establishments such as care centers, senior centers, special needs classrooms, hospice, libraries, and others. Kathleen is also involved in fundraising and EAL Sessions.
Pam Hoch Graphic Designer/ Therapeutic Riding Volunteer When I was growing up, I honed my artistic skills by drawing horses. So, it is no wonder that I am a graphic designer by profession and spend my weekends with horses for fun. Serenity Farm is a place where I can nurture both my passions. Since 2009, I have been happy to share my skills to help Serenity Farm Equestrian Center project an image that is consistent with the quality of their programs and the friendly professionalism of their volunteers and staff. There's always something going on at the farm and good communication keeps everyone informed.
In addition to graphic and web support, I am a horse handler for Therapeutic Riding. I have audited or participated in the Jesse Peters Clinic since 2015. The wealth of knowledge Jesse shares with us helps all of the horse handlers refine our skills. Clear and consistent communication with the horses makes them happier and our clients happier and safer!