About PATH Intl.

Community Building Initiative

Robert Putnam’s ground-breaking research in his book Bowling Alone (Simon and Schuster, 2000) warned that the very fabric of our connections with each other has plummeted, resulting in impoverished lives and communities. An example of this phenomenon exists within PATH Int’l as out of the approximately 8,000 members, a small percentage at any given time are active volunteers who directly influence the direction of the association. This finding, in collaboration with the forward thinking vision of the PATH Intl. Board of Trustees and staff has galvanized PATH Intl. to take a lead in creating a platform with processes that support the development of communities.

The vision of the Community Building Initiative is to identify and support the energy coming from the membership, creating a platform that feeds those efforts. The objectives of the community building initiative are to research concepts to provide all members with benefits and resources to improve their practice or business, support their professional development, and enhance the ability of PATH Intl. to positively impact equine-assisted activities and therapies. PATH Intl. membership communities would identify and connect individuals with a shared interest and/or purpose. Connections could be knowledge or information based, socially motivated, or advocacy-oriented. The communities might be designed to advance the development of knowledge in a particular field of interest or practice and contribute to the professional development of its members and the Association as a whole.


Human Brains Seek Communities

New brain research, often called Social Neuroscience, is exploring the biological foundations of the ways humans relate to each other and themselves (Rock, 2008). Much of our motivation driving social behavior is governed by the overarching principle of minimizing threat and maximizing reward (Gordon, 2000). We approach situations, things and people that have more certainty and have relatedness as a way of reducing any threats. People naturally form “tribes” or communities to experience a sense of belonging, increasing social rewards.

While all human brains are socially driven, individuals define what they consider “threatening” or “rewarding” based on their beliefs drawn from their unique life experiences. One of the most exciting elements of PATH Intl. communities is that they are going to be driven by the passion and energy from the membership. We’ve begun working on a procedure manual to help guide and support the processes so that each community can collectively move forward toward their individually defined vision and goals.

The "Experience" Economy

Imagine a world where you are offering a service or product and it is no longer limited by time, space, or matter. Stan Davis (Future Perfect, 1997) first introduced the concept of businesses blurring these fundamental properties, developing digital and virtual realms which do not require the physical universe as we have known it. In their new book Infinite Possibilities, Pine & Korn (2011) go one step further integrating virtual and reality, creating a Multiverse of infinitely possible ways to provide customer value. The mind-bending exploration of suspending time, space, and matter is the new business and organizational development frontier. Interestingly, community remains intact – even without time, space or matter. In this, the experience economy, the “experience” supersedes the physical or virtual nature of any customer transaction.

In other words, the human desire for community over-rides our need for physical reality. For example in the virtual world of gaming, people still can compete, collaborate, and connect. The explosion of social media tools, such as Facebook, Linked-in and Twitter, provide evidence people will use their resources to find ways to connect and create community.

PATH Intl. is planning to provide their communities with the organizational tools and resources to support both virtual connections, via an electronic platform, as well as more traditional methods of people coming together. Part of the responsibility of our work group is to identify the priorities and needs of the membership. We could use your help in determining the best ways to construct the framework for communities. Please share your ideas and feelings about what would serve you best as a community member by contacting one of the work group members or a PATH Intl. staff member.

Work Group

A work group of individuals representing the diversity of PATH Intl. professionals has come together to share their expertise in and passion for community building. The Work Group exploring PATH Intl. communities is researching the various ways that it can increase the social rewards for PATH Intl. members. One of the work group's goals is to identify services and member benefits that would provide both social networking and in-person opportunities for membership connectivity. The communities will provide a place for like-minded individuals to gather, network, share and engage in important advocacy activities for their respective fields. The communities also provide the PATH Intl. staff and oversight committees the diversity of expertise needed that brings in new members and more members. We encourage you to begin your own community building by contacting one of the following work group members or PATH Intl. staff members:

Chaired by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., PhD, founder of Kaleidoscope Learning Circle, Tracy’s experience as a marketing director, researcher, and executive director of a non-profit offers her a deep pool of resources. She is presenting “Bricks & Mortar of Community Building” at this year’s PATH Intl. conference.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is happy to represent the instructor community, as Jen says, a “meat and potatoes” part of PATH International. Jen has been involved in EAAT since 1993, starting out in Louisiana, now at Equest in Texas for 7 years. She is a PATH International Advanced instructor and a Level II Driving instructor and serves as Texas state chair.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. represents the long active and engaged “admin” community. She brought her financial and banking background UpReach Therapeutic Riding Center where she has been ED since 1998. Karen is an active PATH Intl. member, serving on the Center Advancement Committee since 2008 and presenting at regional and national conferences.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., MA, is founder and president of both Horse Sense of the Carolinas, Inc., a national provider of equine assisted psychotherapy and learning services and Horse Sense Business Sense, LLC, which provides EAAT programs with practical business resources, information and tools. An author and graduate advisor for Prescott College’s Equine Assisted Learning program she consults so others can be successful in the field.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., MSW, LICSW, ED and founder of Natural Connections Learning Center Tanya Welsch has close to 20 years experience providing Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) in mental health and learning programs for individuals. She provides AAI training and consultation and co-facilitates a graduate course in AAI at the University of Minnesota. She is a Pet Partners® team evaluator with the Delta Society, a TTEAM Practitioner-in-training through the Tellington-TTouch, graduate advisor and adjunct faculty for Prescott College and past EFMHA Secretary of the Board. for EFMHA.

After spending four years in military service, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. started her undergraduate studies at Carroll College with the vague notion of “wanting to work with animals to help people”. Through Carroll’s unique Human-Animal Bond program and a summer internship she became passionate about EAAT and the powerful ways in which horses can enrich the lives of those they encounter. Through her studies she became interested not only in being an active member in the field, but in progressing the availability and knowledge of EAAT to those studying related fields.




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