News Release

Alumna Amberly Cox: Managing Students, Horses, and More

By Elizabeth Tollefson on
Friday, January 6, 2017

Amberly PesallShe is the barn manager, or one might describe her as something of a horse whisperer extraordinaire. For Amberly (Pesall) Cox, barn manager at the University of Minnesota Crookston consists of assessing the health of the horses, noting changes in eating, behavior, and the like; offering basic veterinary care; determining if a situation is serious enough to require a veterinarian’s attention; supervising work study students, hiring and managing the student work schedules; ordering supplies and coordinating shipment delivery; ensuring the tack is available and in proper condition; and caring for the arena including dragging and watering. And, that list is not even comprehensive, but she takes it in for every need

Cox, an equine farm animal attendant, graduated in December 2015 with a degree in agricultural business with a minor in equine science. Growing up with horses and an active participant in 4-H, open and breed shows, she wanted to major in equine science, but discovered after an internship that she was more interested in marketing and sales. “I am familiar with horse products and I could see myself on the sales side of the industry rather than working as a trainer, Cox says. Hence, she focused on agricultural business and used her passion for horses as a minor.

Not originally interested in attending school so far from home, Cox came up with her 4-H club as a junior to a horse judging contest a day early for a campus tour with the group. She still wasn’t convinced, but a visit with a friend about her experience as a student at the U of M Crookston turned her around. “I was persuaded in one conversation,” she says. “And, I never looked back. I loved my experience on this campus. The small class size, getting to know and build amberly pesallrelationships with my professors, and the hands-on learning I had with the animals was unparalleled.

“Best of all, I came away with professors who were willing to write me recommendations because they really knew me,” she continues.

During a second internship in summer 2015, she worked for the second largest horse breed association in the country—the American Paint Horse Association—but this time she was on the business/public relations side of the association. She loved it.

After graduating in December 2015, she began her job hunt and planned an August wedding to her fiancé Derek, a U of M Crookston alumnus and 2014 criminal justice graduate. Derek is currently working with the Polk County Sheriff’s office, and when a call came offering Cox the position as equine farm animal attendant, she accepted.

Her effervescent smile and personality make her a great ambassador for the equine program and the campus. She particularly relishes interacting with students and giving tours along with her regular responsibilities. “I love this campus, I enjoyed being a student, and loved what I learned and how I was learning it,” she reflects. Life comes full circle as Cox is now one of the people making a difference in the lives of students.

“A highlight of my years here was riding on the Golden Eagle Equestrian team and going to competitions,” Cox says. “As I moved through my college career, I enjoyed taking on leadership roles as well.”

Her abilities as a leader come into play every day as she works with students, faculty, and staff to ensure the best environment in the barn and arena for her animals and the students who ride and work alongside her.

The University of Minnesota Crookston now delivers 34 bachelor's degree programs, 22 minors, and 40 areas of emphasis on campus as well as 14 degree programs entirely online.  These degrees are offered in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduates from more than 20 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit

In the photos, top left, Amberly Pesall Cox with her horse, Rose; top right, footwear for ever task; and bottom, right, Cox in the tackroom.


Elizabeth Tollefson

University Relations