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Boone County woman dedicates life to horses and educating 4-H kids

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BOONE COUNTY (WREX) — Donna Burlo has been riding horses about as long as she's been able to walk.

Her first ride was when she was 18 months old on her family pony.

"My mom actually used our family pony as a babysitter," Burlo said.

"I've been riding horses all my life and been around them all my life."

Burlo's early passion led her into 4-H as a kid, an organization she would be with through the end high school in 1982.

Once she graduated, she stayed around 4-H for a couple years before stepping away.

That is, until her kids wanted to get involved with the group.

"My daughter did horses at 4-H and we did the beef cattle, and arts and different things and I got on the horse committee for 4-H while she was in it," Burlo said.

The horse committee has gone through some changes in recent years due to alterations made to 4-H in Illinois.

The group is now know at the Northern Lights Horse Promoters.

However, the objective of the committee remains the same: to support 4-H throughout Boone County.

"For our county we have two active drill teams, a miniature drill team, we also have a driving drill team and horse bowl and hippology, which is like a college quiz bowl," Burlo said.

When it comes to knowing a horse in every way, Burlo has that in spades.

She has learned a lot in her time with 4-H and is always there to help the kids, or anybody, who has questions.

"She is a wealth of information regarding horses," Northern Light Horse Promoters committee member Diana Lachcik said.

"You can go to her for just about anything. She is more than willing to share the information she has with anybody in need."

Diana Lachcik has known Burlo since 2008, when she and her daughter got their first miniature horses.

Burlo was able to help them get started with their mini's and Lachcik learned quickly the passion Burlo possesses.

"She is an extremely caring person. She always puts the other person first," Lachcik said.

Being able to share her knowledge is a big part of what Burlo likes to do.

She is always invested in people who want to invest themselves in the world of horses and 4-H.

"I've always liked kids and I've always enjoyed teaching any horse stuff to them. If kids can be in 4H and be engaged and they participate and not just be there, they can use those skills in the workplace, Burlo said.

"It's just a passion for me and I really enjoying it and I like sharing it."

You can learn more about Northern Lights Horse Promoters by clicking here.

If you know someone who is doing good across our stateline area and think they should be recognized, you can fill out a nomination form here, or you can send an email directly to

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Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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