K-State senior named K-State student employee of the year

Kyle Hooker, senior in animal science and industry, rides three year old quarter horse Kip at the K-State horsing unit on April 29, 2015. Hooker was just recently announced as K-State's Student Employee of the Year through his passion and hard work at the K-State Horse Unit. (Kelly Iverson | The Collegian)

This year, Career and Employment Services will debut its Student Employee of the Year award, which recognizes student employees that go above and beyond to make contributions to the K-State family.

Kyle Hooker, assistant manager of the K-State Horse Unit, is the award’s first recipient out of more than 40 nominations for exceptional reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism and adherence to the principle of the “Wildcat Way” with his work at the K-State Horse Unit.

Hooker, senior in animal sciences and industry, first started at the Horse Unit his freshman year as an undergraduate employee. Currently, the Horse Unit maintains 70-80 quarter horses and 20-25 broodmares in addition to the several young horses they keep for training classes.

Last year, there was a 10-month period when the Horse Unit did not have a permanent manger so Hooker stepped up to take on the title of assistant manger.

Hooker is in charge of daily care and maintenance, training colts and everyday facility management. The everyday task list at the horse unit varies for Hooker depending on the season.

“It’s breeding season right now, so every day we collect stallions to breed mares, as well as contacting stallion and mare owners to work out new breeding contracts for next year,” Hooker said.

On top of a busy breeding season, Hooker is also training horses to be sold in a horse sale coming up in Salina.

The work ethic that Hooker possesses has not gone unnoticed. Kallie Emig, Horse Unit manger, said she is impressed with how Hooker stepped up in the assistant manger position.

“Kyle always shows up on time, even before work starts and on weekends to do extra work that I’ve never asked him to do,” Emig said, “He does twice as much work as the other students and goes above and beyond what is expected of him.”

One of the aspects that Hooker said he enjoys about this job is the training the colts; so far he has trained around 20.

“It’s fun to see how differently each of the colts ends up handling after you train each of them,” Hooker said.

Emig vouched for how much effort and attention Hooker has put into those colts and the program.

“Kyle also has taken great pride in starting colts through the K-State program and has gone above and beyond the required and expected training that the student employees give their colts,” Emig said.

Tanner Brunner, senior in animal sciences and industry, said he has taken notice of all the work Hooker has put in at the Horse Unit.

“It was really remarkable how he stepped up to mange the Horse Unit as an undergrad when they we in-between hiring a new manager,” Brunner said.

Hooker has looked at winning the award as a humbling experience.

“Since we are such a big agricultural school and I am able to represent the animal science department, and specifically the equine department, it makes me feel like I have made a contribution to the unique experiences that students have the opportunity to have when they come to Kansas State,” Hooker said.