Our Staff


SONJA WINGARD / Director & Founder, Instructor

In 1999, Sonja Wingard, Abby Soley, and Gwen Hunter founded ANT with encouragement from Catholic Community Services. Sonja, BSN, is ANT’s Executive Director, and brings more than 30 years of experience working with people and animals as a registered nurse, 4-H leader, equine specialist, and riding instructor. She has a special love for young people and the elderly and enjoys bringing them together through ANT’s intergenerational programs. Sonja is a PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, and holds additional horsemanship credentials. You can find her spending time in the garden, playing with her grandchildren, and enjoying trail rides with her beloved horses. Read More    

SHANNON MCCUNE-DICKERSON / PATH Intl. Certified Riding Instructor

Shannon has a masters in Education and has worked with children and teens for over 15 years mentoring, teaching, leading wilderness trips, facilitating groups, and foster parenting.  She has also worked as a parenting educator and most recently as a family counselor, meeting with high-risk families in their homes.  Shannon is a lifelong learner and lover of horses, and is both EAGALA certified and a PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist. She has been involved with equine-assisted learning since 2006 and loves how horses can invite us to see ourselves from new angles, opening conversations for how we can grow into our best selves. When not at the farm, she enjoys kayaking, skiing, reading,  canning local deliciousness, and camping with her husband and four children.    

JESSIE PEMBLE / Office & Outreach Manager; Mobile ANT Coordinator

Jessie received her bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation from WWU in 2017, where she also minored in Spanish, both of which inspired her to serve marginalized communities through meaningful experiences. Having attended ANT Day Camp as a youth, Jessie felt drawn back to the farm to help other families access the healing programs and special animals, and she loves witnessing the tender relationships that develop between horses and participants. Of the many hats she wears at ANT, Jessie’s favorite is as a mentor in the New Horizons Recovery Program, where she helps teen women find new paths to sobriety. Off the farm, she is a cyclist and mountain biker and can often be found chasing her chocolate lab down the trails of Galbraith Mountain. A Bellingham native, she loves swimming off the North Shore Trail, hunting down the best local bakeries, and hiking in the Mount Baker Wilderness.

Kelsy Hartmann / Barn Manager

Kelsy joined the ANT team in 2016. She graduated from WWU with a Bachelor of Science in biology (pre-veterinary emphasis) in 2017. She has cared for many animals in previous work and now enjoys being out in the barnyard caring for ANT’s herd of animals.  In her free time, she enjoys knitting, hiking, spending time with horses, and snuggling with her bunny. Kelsy especially loves the way the animals at ANT are viewed and treated- as amazing facilitators for healing. She thinks it is incredible to work with these creatures as they offer healing and joy to those in need.

Haley Didier / PATH Intl. Certified Riding Instructor

Haley’s love of horses from a young age propelled her to study Equine Sciences at Colorado State University, where she graduated in 2010.  Since then she has worked on various ranches, farms, and animal facilities and has always had an interest in animal therapy. In 2017 Haley completed rigorous training to become a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, and now hopes to pursue an Equine Specialist in Mental Health & Learning certification. Upon moving to Bellingham in 2016, she was instantly drawn to ANT and enjoys the tender, respectful, and reciprocal relationships fostered between animals and humans.  She feels extremely honored to be a part of this work and a witness to the immense healing capacity that animals have!  If you can’t find Haley in the barnyard, you can find her exploring the beautiful wilderness surrounding Bellingham, mountain biking with friends, playing in lakes & rivers, or setting her creativity free through her love of painting.  Haley also has a passion for traveling in search of adventure and experiences that feed her sense of wonder.

AMANDA HOPPE / PATH Intl. Certified Riding Instructor

Amanda is a PATH Intl. Certified Riding Instructor since 2010, and a PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning since 2013. She has been with ANT since 2001, starting as a volunteer mentor before earning her PATH certifications to become an ANT horse instructor. She has over two decades of experience in Western, English, groundwork, and basic horse training, behavior and conditioning. Amanda's primary mode of instruction, however, is teaching English at Whatcom Community College, where she has gained a wide range of skills in the discipline of teaching and learning. She lives with her family in Bellingham and can be found on her free days playing in her garden or searching for unusual treasures at antique malls.

JACK AGUIRRE / Therapist

Joaquin (Jack) Aguirre M.A., LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving youth & veterans at ANT. He has provided counseling to at-risk children/adults and their families for 22 years in hospitals, foster care, and private practice settings. He also holds certificates in Biofeedback and Stress Management, and has trained as a Trauma Response Specialist. Joaquin loves to fish and ride horses, and enjoys spending quality time with friends.

LAURA HALE / Volunteer Coordinator

Laura was an Occupational Therapist for 35 years, specializing in neuro-sensory development. Working with and between agencies, advocating and customizing approaches is her passion and she loves doing the research and learning required to bring the leading edge of valuable information to the table. Laura savors the ‘flavor’ at ANT, and loves working with the small animals on the farm. In her new role as Volunteer Coordinator, she enjoys welcoming community members into the ANT family. Creativity (especially crafts, gardening, & poetry), natural settings, & children, light her up inside. Music and art accompany this life-dance with her adored husband, a “true partner”.

SUE SWANK / Bookkeeper

Bio coming soon!

Certified Riding Instructors:

Sonja Wingard: PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, Certified Horsemanship Association, EAGALA

Haley Didier: PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor
Shannon McCune Dickerson: PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, EAGALA
Amanda Hoppe: PATH Intl. Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor

Our Animals:

Horses, llama, dogs, goats, rabbits, chickens and a cat!

Our Volunteers:

More than 60 fabulous volunteers mentor program participants and care for the animals each week!  Check out our Volunteers Page to learn more.