By Wrangler Network contributor Miss Rodeo America
Growing up in the land of trees, farmland, and a state with a true four seasons, I was fortunate enough to be raised a tough northern girl who grew up with hot summers and cold winters. Often known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” the great state of Minnesota is the second northernmost state in the country, behind only Alaska. The start of the Mississippi River begins here, flowing out of Lake Itasca in the northern part of the state. Fishing is a year-round activity, sometimes on a boat in the beautiful summer heat, and other times in an ice house parked on top of the frozen lake. Minnesota is a top producer of sugar beets, corn, soybeans, and wind power, and home to the Mall of America, Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Mayo clinic, and the late Prince.
Minnesota is one of the few states that has a unique shape to it; it’s not just a boring rectangle. I was born and raised in the southwestern corner of the state, in a small town called Marshall. I grew up with a life that revolved around horses. I don’t think anyone could tell you the first time I was on a horse, simply because that’s where I always was. Both of my parents, Bill and Debby, grew up with horses and competed in rodeos into their adult lives, so I guess you could say it was just a life my older sister, Kayla, and I were born into. I started competing at local horse shows at the age of three. At age eight, I began Little Britches Rodeo, and later added both Junior High and High School Rodeo to the mix, qualifying for the national finals at every level. Upon the completion of high school, I went on to attend South Dakota State University, where I earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in both Biology and Business Economics, with minors in Accounting and Equine Studies. During my time in South Dakota, I had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant for the Equine Reproductive Management course, as well as compete in rodeos at the intercollegiate level. After college, I moved back to my home state, and that is where my journey as Miss Rodeo Minnesota began.
Let’s rewind about fifteen years now. Rewind to my first rodeo queen title, when I was crowned the Minnesota Little Britches Rodeo Princess at the age of nine. Ever since that moment, I idolized rodeo queens. There was just something about them, I couldn’t help but stare. The combination of beauty and grace, paired with an undeniable talent as a horsewoman, rodeo queens captivated me. For years, I looked up to and admired them. As a middle school girl attending the National High School Finals Rodeo as a spectator while my sister competed, I spent most of my week tracking down each and every rodeo queen from all of the different states and getting their autograph. At home, I had binder after binder full of autograph sheets from years of collecting as many different states as I could. I treasured them deeply, reading over and over again what many of them wrote, “Dream big,” or “Never stop dreaming,” or “Chase your dreams.” There was one autograph, in particular, I was especially proud of getting: Kelli Jackson, Miss Rodeo America 2010. Someday I wanted to be just like her. My dream was to one day be just like all of these rodeo queens: a beautiful ambassador of our sport, who makes a difference in the world.
Fast forward back to present-day again. I am living my dream as Miss Rodeo Minnesota. So far, I have traveled over 10,000 miles, and it’s only March. I have had the opportunity to visit hospitals and schools, assist in the production of some big PRCA rodeos beside some amazing stock contractors, and educate those around me about our great sport and the western way of life. Spending the year traveling the country, meeting new friends, and making memories that last a lifetime, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend 365 days of my life. I am proud to be Miss Rodeo Minnesota 2017.