By Wrangler Network contributor Miss Rodeo America
Laissez les bon temp rouler! My name is Kati Jo Barber and I am from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
I am a graduate from Louisiana State University with a degree in General Business and a minor in Entrepreneurship. After rodeo, my two favorite sports are LSU football and baseball. Geaux Tigers! There’s just something about a Louisiana Saturday Night in Death Valley that will make you believe in miracles.
Rodeo season is in full swing here in Louisiana. I’ve already had the opportunity to travel to every corner of my state, and we’re only a month and a half into the year. From Lafayette, to West Monroe, to Lake Charles, I’ve been a very busy rodeo queen. I’ve visited sponsors, hospitals, schools, daycares, and just about anywhere else they would let me read my new favorite book, “Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse.” Louisiana is also wrapping up our favorite state-wide holiday, Mardi Gras! We love to eat and celebrate so much that we have a holiday to do just that.
When I am not chasing the rodeo trail, I have a full time job as a project manager at Envoc, a full-service digital agency in Baton Rouge. I get to manage some of the smartest designers and software developers in my state and possibly even the country, all while they are creating beautiful and functional apps, software and websites. Although it is quite a drastic difference from the rodeo world, a job in the technology field is perfect for a traveling rodeo queen. Even when I am traveling, I am able to take my work with me on my phone and laptop. Envoc has also taught me so much about how to be a professional, to work with every type of person you can imagine, and to learn new things quickly. When you work with technology, if you aren’t using the latest and greatest information, you are already far behind.
One thing that immediately stands out about me is my short hair. About one month before I found out that I would be competing in the Miss Rodeo Louisiana pageant, I made the decision to cut ten inches of my hair and donate it to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children who have lost their hair due to a medical diagnosis. I made my first hair donation to this organization in the seventh grade. At that time, I donated twelve inches of hair and still had hair past my shoulders. It’s a very unique way of helping those in need, and I am very proud to say that I have now donated 10+ inches of hair four times over the past ten years.
I am so excited to represent the great state of Louisiana this year. This opportunity has already been a dream come true and then some, and I know it’s only just begun. I’ve met some of the greatest cowboys and cowgirls, and I’ve reconnected with friends from the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association. I’ve ridden the best horses a girl could ever ask for. And I can’t wait to see where my next adventure takes me.