We are pleased to announce Barbara Closter, of Fairfax, VA, has been selected as the 2023 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Junior Committee Youth Ambassador. She will lead 35 local teens attending schools in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC, who have been accepted to the 2023 WIHS Junior Committee, presented by Signature Academics.
Junior Committee members are an integral part of WIHS, working alongside staff during show week and serving as WIHS representatives within the local equestrian community. Junior Committee members participate in monthly show planning and brainstorming meetings as well as participate in volunteer opportunities with local charitable organizations throughout the year.
The WIHS Youth Ambassador holds a leadership role as chair of the Junior Committee and represents the show’s youth perspective to the media.
2023 Youth Ambassador Barbara Closter, 16, of Fairfax, V.A., competing on Happy Hour.
Closter, who served on the Junior Committee for two years before being named Youth Ambassador, said, “I am so grateful and excited to have been chosen as WIHS YA. I’ve looked up to the ambassadors for years and it means so much to be able to provide the same experiences for others.”
Closter has been an active member of the WIHS Junior Committee for many years . “My favorite WIHS Junior Committee memories all come from our volunteering opportunities. Something about a bunch of horse lovers, hanging out with horses all day, just makes perfect sense.”
As Youth Ambassador, Closter plans on expanding the WIHS audience and community involvement by volunteering with the Junior Committee in the equestrian and non-equestrian community, with the help of her peers.
“My main goal that I hope to achieve as Youth Ambassador, alongside the Junior Committee, is bringing the community that surrounds WIHS together.” remarked Closter.
Junior Committee members at the 2023 Kick Off Meeting at the Show Place Arena!
Four new leadership positions have been added to the Junior Committee: Natalie Paley, 16, Germantown, MD, will serve as Engagement Ambassador; Samantha Bourque, 15, Glenwood, MD, will be the Barn Night Ambassador; Natasha Randhawa, 16, Marriottsville, MD, as the Kids’ Day Ambassador; and Jordan West, 17, Great Falls, VA, as our Social Media Ambassador to help provide more guidance for Junior Committee members.
Junior Committee having fun volunteering at Sprout Therapeutic Riding Center, located in Virginia, in 2022
Supporting the Youth Ambassador and Junior Committee in their academic pursuits is Signature Academics. “We are delighted to return for the fifth year as sponsor of the WIHS Junior Committee,” said Wendy Salomon, Executive Director of Signature Academics, a leading provider of educational services for student athletes, including a one-to-one fully accredited school in Wellington, FL.
Since 2014, Salomon, an avid equestrian herself, and her Signature team have been tutoring equestrian student-athletes year-round, with a permanent location in Wellington, seasonally in Ocala, Fla., and at major national horse shows, including WIHS. “We specialize in supporting equestrian student-athletes who value education,” said Salomon. “Our goal is to provide peace of mind to students and families that academic achievement is always a top priority, even in the face of non-stop training, traveling, and competition.”
WIHS Junior Committee Class of 2023
- Ellie Adams | Alexandria, VA | Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School
- Madeline Arnold| Alexandria, VA | Alexandria City Highschool
- Samantha Bourque | Glenwood, MD | Glenelg High School
- Zoe Bowman | King George, VA | King George High School
- Alexis Brairton | Arlington, VA | Arlington Tech
- Molly Butenhuys | Aldie, VA | St. Paul VI Catholic High School
- Barbara Closter | Fairfax, VA | Oakton High School
- Mira Cooper | Bethesda, MD | Walt Whitman High School
- Abby Dix | Raleigh, NC | Ravenscroft School
- Olivia Doughtery | Arlington, VA | St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School
- Ryan Fellner | Mechanicsville, MD | Chopticon High School
- Cameron Hester | Odenton, MD | Annapolis High School
- Lacie Hurst | Shady Side, MD | Southern High School
- Sophie Kim | McLean, VA | The Potomac School
- Juliana Langlois | Sandy Spring, MD | Our Lady of Good Counsel High School
- Grace Lowe | Arlington, VA | The Maderia School
- Leah Mongridas | Sterling, VA | Potomac Falls High School
- Summer Mrotek | Bowie, MD | Homeschool
- Jessica Osei-Adjei | Gambrills, MD | Arundel High School
- Alexandra Osteen | Gaithersburg, MD | Our Lady of Good Counsel High School
- Natalie Paley | Germantown, MD | Northwest High School
- Noelle Railey | Phoenix, MD | Notre Dame Preparatory School
- Natasha Randhawa | Marriottsville, MD | Marriotts Ridge High School
- Isabella Salas | Oakton, VA | Laurel Springs School
- Josephine Samuelson | Washington, DC | National Cathedral School
- Lily Sonneborn | Washington, DC | The Potomac School
- Ellie Spitzer | Richmond, VA | Fusion Global Academy
- Isabelle Strouble | Clarksburg, MD | Damascus High School
- Rachel Taffetani | Scaggsville, MD | Reservoir High School
- Kate Thomas | Darnestown, MD | Northwest High School
- Hannah Weingast | Vienna, VA | Langley High School
- Audrey Weland | Washington, DC | The Maderia School
- Isabelle Welch | Williston, FL | Homeschool
- Jordan West | Great Falls, VA | Langley High School
- Ava Wolfe | Burke, VA | Acellus Academy
About Signature Academics
Signature Academics offers a full range of educational services to support today’s student-athletes. From Wellington and Ocala, Fla., through Devon and the indoor horse shows, Signature Academics provides year-round subject tutoring; standardized test preparation; custom, seasonal and year-round accredited one-to-one school; and college counseling to students in middle school through college. By combining academic excellence and a full understanding of the equestrian world and its challenges, the team at Signature Academics is uniquely qualified to help equestrian student-athletes excel in everything they do. Learn more at SignatureAcademics.com.
About Washington International Horse Show
Established in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is one of North America’s most prestigious and entertaining equestrian events with highlights including the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington for the President’s Cup and the WIHS Equitation Finals. WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition, and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization. For more information, visit wihs.org.