2016-2017 HTA Scholarship Winners

Harness Tracks of America and International Sound Corporation are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Harold Snyder Memorial Scholarship awards totaling $15,000.

The annual funding program, eligible to sons and daughters of harness racing participants or individuals actively engaged in the sport themselves, was launched in 1973 by Stan Bergstein, the late HTA Executive Vice President for nearly 60 years.

Three outstanding students will each receive a $5000 grant to assist in their post-secondary educational careers.

“We had a bumper crop of determined and accomplished applicants for the 2016-17 school year,” noted David Snyder, Chairman of the Selection Committee.

“The costs of a college or advanced degree continue to climb, and the committee had a difficult task separating 22 very worthy candidates. Nearly all of them demonstrated strong academic skills, financial need, generous volunteer and community service participation, and energetic part-time employment experiences.”

This year’s Harold Snyder Scholarship recipients are:


SARAH MARIE BIRKHOLD: A 22 year-old Animal Sciences major at The University of Florida in Gainesville, Ms. Birkhold will graduate in December and plans to pursue a Veterinary Medicine degree at either UF or The Ohio State University.

She earned a 3.89 GPA during her spring semester and just days ago learned that she aced her summer session Physics 2 Lab class.

Throughout high school and college, Sarah worked part-time as a tax preparer, rental property manager and assistant in the George Birkhold Stable, where she helped break and train yearlings.

Last year she started a small business painting and tiling cow heads and painting old saws that she finds in antique shops.

“It’s definitely nice to earn some extra money doing something I love,” she wrote in her essay submission, adding, “I have not yet had to borrow money/loans, but I will have to for graduate school.”

Birkhold currently serves as President of Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen and Treasurer of Block and Bridle and recently received the Outstanding Service Award from the Biotechnology Alliance of Suncoast Biology Educators.

She was a teaching assistant, lecturer and grader for the Animal Nutrition course spring semester and will serve in that capacity again for the Equine Enterprise Management class this fall.


JENNE’ VENIER: Ms. Venier, 18, graduated in June from Eastwood High School in Pemberville, OH.

Enrolled in a demanding college prep curriculum, including Biology 2 and Anatomy & Physics post-secondary classes at the University of Findlay, she finished with a cumulative GPA of 3.99, earning all A’s and two B’s.

She just started fall semester classes at Lourdes University near Toledo, pursuing a degree in nursing.

A National Honor Society inductee who earned the Most Valuable Player award on the Eastwood Varsity Golf Team, Jenne’ was involved in numerous charitable endeavors throughout high school, including Wood County Special and Youth Olympics, Food Pantry, Sharing Hands and blood drive volunteer.

The award-winning chalk artist and painter garnered impressive endorsements attesting to her character and work ethic, including lengthy and sincere letters of recommendation from her high school English teacher and Key Club advisor, youth pastor and the Wood County Prosecuting Attorney.

Jenee’ is the daughter of owner-trainer-driver Dan Venier and owner-groom Cheryl Venier. They own and operate a family farm in Pemberville.


MICHAEL FAHY: Fahy, 23, is a repeat recipient, having won the same $5000 grant amount last year after achieving a sterling undergraduate record at southeastern Ohio’s Marietta College.

He is the son of harness horse owners William and Moira Fahy, who race at The Meadows in Washington, PA.

Michael is now in his second year at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., where he will graduate in spring 2017 with a Master of Arts advanced degree.

He is majoring in U.S. National Security Policy. Michael served as a Legislative Affairs Intern for the U.S. Department of State during his second semester and is currently employed as an Analyst Intern at the federal Government Accountability Office.

“I have been tasked with auditing the U.S. Department of Defense regarding their efforts to adapt their infrastructure to the effects of climate change overseas,”

He wrote. “This topic is very politically salient and has exposed me to the deep depths of the government bureaucracy.”

The obvious skills of articulateness and diplomacy Mr. Fahy demonstrated in his scholarship essay are matched by his continuing academic prowess.

He currently boasts a 3.67 GPA at Georgetown after earning all A’s and one B+ in such rigorous subjects as Grand Strategy/Military Operations, Energy and Security and U.S. Defense Budgeting and National Security.

Harness Tracks of America and International Sound Corporation have made 214 grants to 146 students since the scholarship fund’s inception.

A total of $808,950 has been awarded. The program remains one of the cherished legacies of double Hall of Famer

Bergstein and International Sound founder Snyder, who died in 2015.

HTA Scholarship Committee Members Tom Aldrich (Northfield Park), Charles Lockhart (Dover Downs), Chris McErlean (Penn Gaming), Rick Moore (Hoosier Park) and Jason Settlemoir (The Meadowlands) are deeply grateful for the continuing financial support of Marcia Snyder, Harold’s widow, and son David.

The Snyders’ generous endowments have enriched the sport and touched the lives of harness racing families over many decades.