This week we are headed back to Missouri! Help me welcome our Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri 2018, Dani Williams as our featured titleholder! Dani talks about her travels so far this year and how she's been involved with Cardinal Glennon!
How did you get your start in rodeo and rodeo queen pageants?
Growing up, my mom always told me stories of her rodeo queen days. She held the titles of the very first Mark Twain Lake Queen, Mexico Rodeo Queen and MRCA Rodeo Queen. She then started judging at my local rodeo queen pageant. About 6 years ago I started competing at the Troy Rodeo Queen Pageant. I have held the titles of 2014 Troy Jr. Rodeo Queen, 2016 Troy Rodeo Queen and the Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri 2018.
What has been your favorite appearance so far as Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri?
Each rodeo is so different and maybe that is my favorite part. I have enjoyed meeting new people at each one and of course catching up with old friends too! Throughout my year this far I have done some events such as reading at doctor Seuss Week, attending PRCA Rodeos and local charity events such as my personal fundraiser for Cardinal Glennon. My schedule is packed with events almost every weekend and there’s no way I would rather have it!
That’s so awesome that you have your own fundraisers that you do! How did you become involved with Cardinal Glennon and why did you choose them to donate money to?
I was actually a patient there three years ago. In late October 2015 I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune neurologic disease called Guillain Barre. After spending a week and the transitional care unit at Cardinal Glennon children’s research Hospital, I decided I wanted to give back to the hospital get it done so much for me. So I partnered with the local Troy rodeo queen’s to do a donation drive at Walmart. The event was super successful and we were able to raise $1500 Worth of items and $250 in cash donations from the Lincoln County community!
What is one thing you are looking forward to during the rest of your year?
I have enjoyed traveling all over Missouri thus far in my year, however, I cannot wait to travel to LasVegas for the National Finals Rodeo where Ashley Bauer, Miss Rodeo Missouri will be competing for the title of Miss Rodeo America!
Who is one Miss Rodeo America that you would love the chance to go to dinner with? What would you ask her?
If I had the chance to have dinner with a former Miss Rodeo America it would definitely be Katherine Merck, Miss Rodeo America 2016. I would like to give her all the credit in strengthening my passion and respect for the rodeo queen industry. As I watched her travel throughout her year, I loved how humble she was! Her story is truly inspiring and I strive to represent the sport I love, just as she did!
What is one thing you have learned so far being Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri that you didn't know when you competed for the title?
I always knew the saying “Rodeo rain or shine” and I have been fortunate to learn how much fun it is to rodeo in the mud. Although I have also become aware of how much Rodeo is just like a big family! We all have each other’s backs, laugh with and sometimes at each other and even when we part ways we are able to keep in touch through Rodeo.
So true, there is nothing like a weekend getting to rodeo in the mud. I know all of us here in the Ozark Rodeo Association can agree with that. And isn't that the most wonderful thing about the sport of rodeo? We truly are one big family.
Speaking of our rodeo families and how much fun we have on the road, why do you think the rodeo queen industry is dying? And what should we do to insure girls keep coming back to compete in the pageants?
I think that you understand this when I say it, that it takes a lot of time and energy to host a pageant. And trust me we greatly appreciate all that you do for the Ozark Rodeo Association and the rodeo queen industry. As for the girls, they may not realize all the opportunities that are presented with being a title holder, I know I didn’t when I started. And yes, I will admit it is a lot of work, however being a rodeo queen is also a lot of fun. I think as queen coordinators we all must really emphasize what the girls get to do and how easy it is to become involved!
Absolutely! There are so many incredible opportunities that come with the title. I have one last question for you.
Now that you've graduated high school, getting ready to go off to college, and halfway through your year as Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri, what does the future look like for you in rodeo queening after this year?
I will be heading down to West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. My plan is to major in Agriculture Communications and minor in Plant Science. I will be doing my first semester on-line due to my prior obligations here in Missouri and will transfer down in January. I hope to continue to be involved in the rodeo industry throughout college and one day compete for Miss Rodeo Missouri!
Ladies don't miss out on the opportunities that come with being a rodeo queen and get your start in pageants now!
Thank you Dani for taking the time to do an interview with us!
Until next time,
Miss Ozark Rodeo Association Pageant
What is your part of rodeo?
My favorite part of rodeo is the roping events. I also enjoy hanging out with my friends that I don't get to see everyday.
What do you like to do in your free time when you aren't rodeoing?
When I'm not rodeoing, I work at Dave's Country Mart in Tipton as a stockboy and cashier. If I'm not working, I am in the practice pen with my horses. Practice is important.
Who is your rodeo role model?
My rodeo role model is Tuf Cooper. He is my role model because he is where I want to be. He works hard every day to be the best he can be, not only in rodeo but in life as well. He makes fast consistent runs and that's where I want to be with my roping. He makes me push myself to be at the top of my game and he is a super nice individual who will talk to you and not just blow you off.
What is your favorite part of rodeo?
Spending time with friends but also being able to be competitive with them
What do you like to do in your free time when you're not rodeoing?
Spend time with my cows or fish
Who is your rodeo role model?
This week we are headed back to Oregon just in time for the Miss Rodeo Oregon 2019 pageant to feature the current Miss Rodeo Oregon! Please help us welcome Jessi Conforth as our featured titleholder! She talks about her year so far and her personal platform that she has been promoting! Also, if you're in Oregon be sure to catch the Miss Rodeo Oregon pageant being held this weekend!
What is your background in rodeo and rodeo queen pageants?
My background is actually much more limited than people originally think. I am a first generation cowgirl through and through. My parents had never grown up ranching or with any sort of livestock so it was a big learning curve when they bought my first horse when I was nine years old. Owning a horse in general was an idea that we stumbled across by accident, and we had no clue that it would be the best thing that ever happened to me. With my first horse, Jazz, I completed all nine years of horse 4-H, and was very active on my Oregon High School Equestrian Team. I was drill captain all four years, and team captain for my final two. I also competed at local playdays, barrel races, and ranch sortings.
As for rodeo queening, I essentially looked at my mom one day and asked how she felt about me trying out for the local rodeo court. I had a close family friend who had been on the court a few years prior, so she helped me prepare. I tried out for another rodeo court two weeks before my local court, so I could have some practice. That pageant went well and I was chosen as one of the princesses. I met the court coordinator, who was Miss Rodeo Oregon in 2009, and she educated me on the Miss Rodeo Oregon program and I never looked back. The next year I was queen of the same local court with plans already forming to run for Miss Rodeo Oregon.
Why did you decide to run for Miss Rodeo Oregon?
I was inspired to run for Miss Rodeo Oregon because of the people who helped get me into rodeo queening in the first place. I was not the most confident girl growing up, but they helped build me up and made me believe that I could be something more than just myself. After I graduated from Oregon State University in 2016, I bought myself a two and a half year old gelding named Dually and started preparing day in and day out. The aspect of rodeo queening that I was least confident in was horsemanship, so learning with such a young horse kept me honest in my riding and I started working with a few different horse trainers. They would give me “homework” to do with Dually, and also put me on different horses. Now Dually is my best pal and I feel so much more confident riding a variety of horses.
Jessi and her four year old horse, Dually, at the Grand Floral Parade in Portland, Oregon
I’ve noticed through your social media you have a platform. Could you tell us what it is and why you chose to promote it while being Miss Rodeo Oregon?
My platform for my year is raising money for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund through the hashtag #flexforjccf. The way it works is people take a picture with me while we flex our muscles, and then that person and myself can post the picture to Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag. Then on the very last day of my reign, I will count all of the pictures under the hashtag on both social media sites and donate $1 for every photo. Between the number of pictures that have already been posted and with people pledging to either match me dollar for dollar or with a straight donation, we are currently sitting around $2,500 donated.
I chose this platform because I wanted my year to be more than just about myself. The Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund was the perfect organization to choose because one of the career options I am looking at is athletic training and my dream is to be a part of the Justin Sports Medicine Team. The pictures are fun to take and people enjoy learning why we are flexing, plus the hashtag makes keeping track of photos really easy.
What are you most looking forward to during the rest of your year and as you prepare to compete in the Miss Rodeo America Pageant in December?
I am most looking forward for the summer run of rodeo season to start. I have about a three week period where I am at a rodeo every single day, and it will be busy but very rewarding. I really enjoy meeting new people at rodeos. I also think this will help me with my preparations for Miss Rodeo America because I will be immersed in rodeo all day every day so I will have a better time remembering all the rules and top cowboys and cowgirls.
What was it like to get to experience Rodeo Houston and be a part of it?
Rodeo Houston was a trip of a lifetime, and I would recommend it to any current or aspiring state queen. You spend most of your day taking care of the Cervi Championship Rodeo flag horses, but then you also ride in the grand entry and work the rodeo. We were given different jobs to do during the rodeo; holding judges’ horses, running gates, or taking care of pickup horses. I worked a gate both weeks that I was there, and I learned so much about the behind the scenes of the rodeo on the roughstock side. It was also a great time to bond with some of the other current titleholders and learn from the past ones that were there as well. The free concert each night after the performance was just a cherry on top.
RODEOHOUSTON Pivot Girls participating in Jessi's #flexforjccf platform
You travel so many miles throughout your year, that I’m sure you’re an expert at packing by now. What is one item that you always pack in your suitcase?
I always have water with me! Staying healthy and hydrated while on the road is critical to being a successful queen. When I drive to rodeos, I drink pure coconut water. For flying, I always have an empty water bottle in my carry-on because you can fill it for free after you get through security.
Besides winning the title of Miss Rodeo America, what is your goal going in to the pageant?
My goal at Miss Rodeo America is to walk off that stage at the end of the week knowing I stayed true to myself and gave it everything I had. I am my biggest critic, so I really want to be proud of myself.
What has been your most memorable experience so far of being Miss Rodeo Oregon?
While I was in Florida we had the opportunity to attend a party at “Give Kids The World”. It is a resort for families with terminally ill children where they get an all-expenses paid week-long vacation. We were part of the Halloween party, and it was so incredible to see the joy on the kids’ faces as we danced with them, played games, and handed out candy. It was also extra special for me because the main coordinator of the program was from Clackamas, Oregon!
Jessi with the coordinator for Give Kids The World in Florida
How did attending and watching the 2018 Miss Rodeo America Pageant help you prepare for your year as Miss Rodeo Oregon and preparing for Miss Rodeo America?
Watching the 2018 MRA Pageant was vital to my success this year. It helped me realize aspects of the pageant that I could start preparing for now, and what I could expect for when I compete. It was also part of how my #flexforjccf platform got started, because I was inspired at the MRA introductions listening to all the great things the current titleholders had used their year for.
What is one piece of advice you would give to any girl starting out the in the rodeo queen industry?
I have found that the most important thing when rodeo queening is to stay true to yourself. Use pageants and your title as opportunities to learn about your strengths, weaknesses, and what makes you most happy in life. Unfortunately we cannot please everyone all the time, but we are completely in control of our own happiness. So learn and grow with the process, but do not let it overrun your own beautiful personality and what you as an individual bring to the title.
Hot lap on Pete Carr's Pro Rodeo horse "Scoot" in Guymon, Oklahoma
Jessi has spent her year traveling the country and promoting her platform #flexforjccf and she has been doing a wonderful job. I encourage every rodeo queen and contestant to create a platform to promote throughout your reigns, it will make it so much more memorable and people will remember you because of it.
We wish Jessi the best of luck this December as she competes for the title of Miss Rodeo America! Thank you so much for doing this interview with us and enjoy the rest of your year!
Until next time.
Miss Ozark Rodeo Association
What is your favorite part of rodeo?
Meeting new people and helping each other out. Helping little kids learn is a blessing for me. I love knowing that I helped someone out.
What do you like to do in your free time when you're not rodeoing?
I ride my horses, go swimming, spend time with family, work, just have a good time.
Who is your rodeo role model?
Adrienne Ferrell. She has 3 kids and keeps up with them and always has a smile on her face. I have never seen her upset. She’s a great person to learn from.
This week we are bringing it back home to the Show-Me State to talk to another Missouri titleholder! Please help us welcome Kaela (Hotlmeyer) Ryan, Miss Rodeo Missouri 2006 as our special guest this week!! Kaela talks about her year as Miss Rodeo Missouri, how the industry has changed since her reign, and how being a rodeo queen prepared her for life after the crown!
How did you get involved in rodeo and rodeo queen pageants?
I became involved with the pageant because of my youngest brother Jack. Jack was born with Down Syndrome. We fought as a family to make sure that my brother would receive the same outlook on life as we did. With Jack dealing with Down Syndrome, he lagged in achieving the milestones other children surpassed. The doctors told us he would not be able to walk or talk as a normal child. As a family we began researching and located therapeutic riding. I have was heavily involved in the APHA and 4H, throughout my years in school and still currently showed in the APHA Association. It was crazy to think what we had been heavily involved in my whole life was also going to be Jack's secret to success. Living in a small area the closest one was over 45 mins away. With much due diligence we opened the Jackson Academy. We had many children in our area that could and did benefit from the riding program, but not many had an opportunity to utilize due to the costs of the lessons. At which point we decided to make it as free as possible. It is amazing being from a small community how much you pull together. We hosted a benefit rodeo each year to cover the cost of supplies and feed for the horses in the program, which ultimately made the costs for the rider nothing. This program brought me great joy to see the children overcome the trials and tribulations that they had been dealt with in life. Although, we wanted to involve the community more, so we added a rodeo pageant and planned to send the girls to state to represent our small community. With a mission in mind to not only support the greatest sport of all time I wanted to promote the awareness of disabilities and the benefits horses have to offer. So I ran for the title of Miss Rodeo Rhineland. During this time I took my knowledge of my background and invested it in my community to further flourish the dreams of younger girls and riders.
Why did you decide to compete for Miss Rodeo Missouri?
After conquering my first sought achievement, I didn't want to just stop the awareness and passion of the sport in just my community. I wanted to strive for more. There were so many out there that did not know the benefits horses could have in one person's life. I hit the books to continue to grow my knowledge of the PRCA to prepare me for the next hill I had to climb.
What was your favorite experience of being Miss Rodeo Missouri?
During my reign of Miss Rodeo Missouri, I had so many memorable experiences. It's not just about sitting in a saddle at a rodeo and waiving, it is much more. During the rodeo I was able to help assist with rounding cattle, running flags, and being part of skits, but most of all I had the opportunity to post our flag proudly. With this came the opportunity to travel throughout our great Show-Me State and meet many amazing, wonderful individuals. I had the opportunity to represent the sport of Rodeo during the Derby Days at the therapeutic center just outside of Kansas City with the KC Wolf, and attend the horse show at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Center in Columbia. My reign also allowed me to attend functions at Fort Leonardwood where I had the opportunity to meet Keith Urban and many outstanding Soldiers that risk their life every day for our freedom. I went to the Capitol and meet many of our Senators and was introduced onto the house floor as a guest during FFA week. But my duty and role did not just remain in Missouri. I had the amazing opportunity to meet the other state queens with traveling from San Antonio, Texas to Logandale, Nevada gaining friendships that will last a lifetime. With stops in between at Cheyenne, Wyoming for Grand Daddy of them all, partaking in interviews with ESPN and RFD-TV, these are just a few of the activities I experienced. I would love to write about each one. Every stop there was a new gained memory that I will forever cherish.
How did being Miss Rodeo Missouri and competing for Miss Rodeo America prepare you for life after the crown?
My reign as Miss Rodeo Missouri prepared me in many ways which words cannot express. I gained friendships that last a lifetime and memories that will never be forgotten. But most of all, it has given me the true meaning of the self-confidence that you can do anything for which you set in your mind and heart. Opportunities can truly be limitless. I believe without my reign, I would not be who I am today. It has made me strive for self-achievement so I will never settle.
What is one piece of advice your director, Sherrie Norris, gave you during your reign that you still remember to this day?
Sherrie and I went through a lot; she opened her home to me and I felt like family, she became my second mother and the glue that held it all together. She did an amazing job of making sure I was where I needed to be, when I needed to be there. Many times I traveled most of the week. For instance, one week we went from Cabool to Odessa and then shortly after I grabbed a plane for a rodeo out-of-state. There is no way I would have been able to do any of it without her. As we approached the Miss Rodeo America Pageant travel, preparation went into many sleepless nights. The biggest piece of advice she had given to me is: don't stop and continue to believe in yourself because you can achieve anything you want to set your mind and heart to achieve. People are not who define you, you are what defines you.
How do you feel the rodeo industry has changed since you were Miss Rodeo Missouri in 2006?
Since my reign as Miss Rodeo Missouri the biggest change is watching all of the new and amazing talent that has taken to this wonderful sport. Which I think is great. Since 2006, this sport continues to grow and so does the knowledge of those outside the sport.
What was the hardest part of preparing for the Miss Rodeo America Pageant?
The hardest part for me in preparing was the uncertainty of what they would ask. Without having a strong background in pageantry I utilized the information from my director and other queens. Also leading up to the pageant I knew that we would draw 2 horses, they would not be the same horse and that one pattern would be drawn and the other I would have to draw. We did not have the opportunity to work with this horse beforehand, so I tried to never take my own horse to a rodeo in order to make a point to use whatever the contractor would let me borrow. This broadened my ability to jump-on and learn in the flash. With the questions, I made sure that I studied and studied some more. The questions were not just pertaining to the rodeo association but also current events that were ongoing during this time. I made it my mission to do the best to represent our State well.
What was your goal going into the Miss Rodeo America Pageant?
My main goal as Miss Rodeo Missouri was to promote the sport of rodeo, promote therapeutic riding and enjoy the amazing opportunity I had been given.
If you could give just one tip or trick to someone who is just starting out in the rodeo queen world, what would it be?
You do not have to have a rodeo background to be able to compete. You just need to share the love of animals, agriculture and western tradition. Another tip I would give is do not let the world define you be YOURSELF, allow your fire and passion to shine brightly. So many times during my reign I had heard "I am from a small town, I will never win" or "I don't think I will learn enough to be able to do it." Girls, I am from a small town and had the same thoughts, but I set out to make my mark on the map, I strongly encourage you to do the same. Do not feel your role is just to sit and look the part, be the part. It is a once in a life-time opportunity and don't let it slip through your fingers. Never have doubt that you can't achieve it, because you can. I can't stress enough - I highly encourage all young women to compete in the rodeo pageantry. I wish I would have started sooner. The other piece, I would say, you will learn these items become your best friend; can of starch, make-up, hairspray, and carrying an on-the-road bag, plus investing in a good under eye cream because sleep is one thing you can do when your reign is over. Best of luck to all of you, you all are amazing in your own way.
Have you ever thought you couldn't be a rodeo queen because you didn't have a rodeo background? Well you can! Just because you don't come from that background doesn't mean you can't do it and Kaela is the perfect example of that. She had a drive and desire to be Miss Rodeo Missouri and that's exactly what she did. Kaela was a very successful Miss Rodeo Missouri and spent her year promoting the sport of rodeo and the PRCA to the best of her abilities and she came from a small town with no rodeo background. You can do it too!
Thank you Kaela for doing this interview with us! I of course loved getting to catch up with you some and even hear about your year again.
Until next week,
Miss Ozark Rodeo Association Pageant
Photos Courtesy of Kaela Ryan
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