Measuring the impact that Karen McCalpin, the Executive Director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, has had on the Outer Banks and Corolla in particular is tough. Not because there hasn’t been any, but because the impact is so huge.
For the people who have gotten to know her and the passion and love for the Corolla Wild Horses it’s tough to imagine what it would be like without her. But that reality is coming to pass.
After 10 years, Karen is retiring. Her last day will be December 31.
She’s moving back to her native Pennsylvania. Most of her family is there…grand kids, children and a husband who has commuted for most of her time at the CWWF.
The CWHF was 10 years old when Karen took over and under her leadership it has become a dynamic advocate for the Colonial Spanish Mustang. Before she came on the scene, there was some doubt about the genetic pedigree of the Corolla herd, with many horse experts believing the Corolla herd was a mixture of American breeds and at most there was a little bit of mustang in them.
Karen wanted to know. She insisted on working with the best genetic experts and having the herd examined by some of the most respected members of the Horse of Americas Registry and the American Livestock Conservancy—two organizations that determine the lineage of horses. What she found was, yes, the Corolla Wild Horses are a direct genetic link to the mustangs the Spanish explorers brought to the New World.
Having the Colonial Spanish Mustang designated as the North Carolina State Horse was a result of her outreach to school children.
There was a side to her that was tough and unyielding—qualities she needed when she went toe to toe with USFW over the size of the herd that would be allowed in Carova—a herd that would have been so small if USFW had their way that it is doubtful if the horses could have survived.
And this is just a partial list.
So…yes, Karen will be missed, but she is one of those luck few who can look back on something an know their legacy will live on.
She will be moving on to another position. Somehow it’s not surprising what she will be doing next. She will be the executive director of a therapeutic riding center in Pennsylvania.