Laura Harding Perseverance Award & How to Apply

The Laura Harding Perseverance Award honors former Autobahn Youth Tour participant Laura Harding. Her courage and determination are an inspiration to everyone that meets Laura. Laura’s spirit is a guide for the Autobahn Youth Scholarship Tour and we proudly celebrate that spirit through this award. A letter of nomination for the award is sent to Pam Dodson in care of the Autobahn Youth Scholarship Tour, 3000 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth, TX 76107.

Read a Recent Letter from Laura’s Parents:

Laura Harding Has Headed Off to College!

Sending an only daughter off to college would seem to be a very ordinary event. The factor that makes it somewhat different to some people is that Laura was born with Down Syndrome. Many of our friends and acquaintances seem amazed at the equanimity of my wife and I as we planned for Laura to head off to college this Fall – particularly one that involves a 600-mile drive to reach! However, to us it is just the normal culmination of our efforts to help Laura achieve her maximum potential – whatever that may prove to be.

Starting with an Early Intervention program when Laura was only 6-weeks old, we have concentrated on the things that Laura can do and minimized the effect of things she cannot do, or cannot do well. Part of our confidence in Laura’s abilities to succeed in a complex environment comes from our observing her development of skills and confidence during her seven years of participation in a variety of activities with the Texas Longhorn Breeders of Tomorrow.

We always kept Laura in natural educational environments to the maximum extent possible. From the time we enrolled her in a Montesorri school a couple of mornings a week at age two until she graduated from high school, her primary placement was in a ‘regular’ classroom. This included two years of Head Start classes, 4 years at our church pre-school, public school through middle school, private school for a couple of years, and the last three years of high school at our local high school taking most of her courses in regular classrooms.

Laura learned to read in a public school first-grade classroom with an outstanding experienced teacher, who refused to have an aide in her classroom to “assist” with Laura.. We had helped Laura’s reading readiness (and continued reading improvement) by reading to her nearly every night of her life, or having her read to us some of the time, from a very early age until high school. She now wants to read to herself every night before she goes to sleep! She also has talked since an ‘early’ age.

When Laura was entering her last couple of years of high school, it was pointed out that she could continue in high school until she was 22 years old. She would have none of it. She wanted to graduate with her peers, get her diploma and get on with her life. She graduated at age 19 because her birthday was in October and we had her repeat her 4-year old pre-school (different classroom) to increase maturity and social skills.

Laura spent a ‘gap’ year following high school getting prepared for college. She volunteered at our church’s Early Learning Center three mornings a week. She waked to her own alarm, fixed her own breakfast, walked the two blocks to the school, and returned home when finished. She did her own laundry (most of the time), got set up with a bank account, wrote checks, used a debit card, and surfed the internet (she loves to find new praise music)!

Laura’s vocational selection has derived from her participation in raising, halter-breaking, and exhibiting Texas Longhorn cattle. This has been an extra-curricular activity which has no Individualized Education Plan or special modifications! This activity led to her taking most of the agricultural education courses that were available at her high school and a desire to work with animals as a vocation. In addition, she earned enough scholarship money through the Texas Longhorn Breeders of Tomorrow Autobahn Scholarship Tour to pay for her year of college on her own!

So, where did we send Laura for college? We, and she, selected Eastern New Mexico University at Roswell. It is one of the few public junior colleges in the country with a Special Services Occupational Training Program . This vocational and life skills program is designed for students with disabilities. It places emphasis on training individuals for independent living and to gain positions in competitive employment. Students live on-campus in residence halls, and upon completion of course requirements, the students receive Certificates of Occupational Training.

Laura is studying Animal Caretaking in her 11-month training program. We finally reached the point where Laura’s ‘placement’ is a special services placement. But it didn’t come until college, and she would not be able to have this type of college experience without the support of the type of program provided at ENMU.

The objective for this year is to increase Laura’s knowledge, skills, and experience with all types of animals as well as provide a documentation of her training. This should help her acquire an entry-level position in any of a variety of animal-care situations. She has stated that she needs to work hard this year so she can come back to College Station, get a job at the Texas A&M Vet School, and get her own apartment! It’s good to have a college student with goals!

Cell phones and e-mail will make the separation tolerable on both sides, but we will be making the 600-mile trip to Roswell about once a month to check up and visit. Just like all parents, we miss having Laura at home, but it’s a milestone and achievement that we couldn’t even have imagined a few years ago.

We want to thank all members of the TLBAA who in ways large and small made her time with the TLBT educational, fun, and life-forming. However, those who helped her get started (and thus helped us to become members and breeders) in the very beginning deserve special mention. Those people include Christine Larsen, Larry Barker, Bonnie Scott, Glen and Lyn Lewis, John T. Baker, and Mike Warner.

We also appreciate the interactions, kindness, and assistance of all the TLBT members who participated with Laura during her years in the TLBT. Finally, we want to recognize the financial assistance of all those who donated animals for the Gold Merit and Hall of Fame Competitions, those who purchased animals that Laura sold at auction, and John & Diann Chase for their sponsorship of the Autobahn Scholarship Program.

Although we will not be attending as many shows in the past, we expect to continue to support the programs of the TLBAA, particularly those activities directed toward the youth.

Kenn Harding and Tammy Tiner
College Station, Texas


2018 Diann Chase Longhorn Scholarship Expo

2018 Diann Chase Longhorn Scholarship Expo
Laura Harding Award Winner:
Kylar Vasil
Photo: Laura Harding, John Chase, Kylar Vasil

2017 Diann Chase Longhorn Scholarship Expo

2017 Diann Chase Longhorn Scholarship Expo
Laura Harding Award Winner:
Katie Smith
Photo: Katie Smith & Laura Harding

2017 Diann Chase Longhorn Scholarship Expo

2017 Diann Chase Longhorn Scholarship Expo
Laura Harding Award Winner:
Cody Garcia
Photo: Cody Garcia & Laura Harding

2016 Diann Chase Longhorn Scholarship Expo

2016 Diann Chase Longhorn Scholarship Expo
Laura Harding Award Winners:
Caroline Girard & Kendall Gregg
Photo: Caroline Girard, John Chase and Kendall Gregg

2015 Laura Harding Award Winners

2015 Diann Chase Longhorn Scholarship Expo
Laura Harding Award Winners:
Tud Krier & Kasi Dick

2014 Laura Harding Award Winners

2014 Autobahnanza
Laura Harding Award Winners:
Molly Cook & Mia Garcia
Photo: Molly Cook, Laura Harding and Mia Garcia

2012 Super Stakes Laura Harding Award Winners

2012 Autobahn Super Stakes
Laura Harding Award Winners:
Taylor Sowell & West Ryan
Photo: Taylor Sowell, Laura Harding and West Ryan

2012 Classic Laura Harding Award Winners

2012 Autobahn Classic
Laura Harding Award Winners:
Bailey Bright & Cortney Petrich
Photo: Bailey Bright, John Chase and Cortney Petrich

2011 Super Stakes Laura Harding Award Winners

2011 Autobahn Super Stakes
Laura Harding Award Winner:
Kylen Harrell
Photo: Kylen Harrell and Laura Harding