On this week's edition of Titleholder Tuesday, we are once again combining it with Tip Tuesday! This week we are talking to former Miss Rodeo Washington 1996, Karie O'Donnell-Herbers! Karie served as the Miss Rodeo Washington National Director for ten years and is now on the scholarship foundation board for Miss Rodeo America. She is going to talk some about her time as Miss Rodeo Washington and the importance of scholarships in rodeo queen pageants.
What is your background in rodeo and rodeo queen pageants?
I've been involved in rodeo my entire life. My grandfather was a rodeo announcer and my grandmother a barrel racer. Both of my parents did junior rodeo and my dad also served as a rodeo veterinarian. I started doing rodeo pageants in the early 90's and was hooked.
How did being Miss Rodeo Washington and competing in the Miss Rodeo America pageant prepare you for life and your current career?
Being Miss Rodeo Washington and competing for MRA gave me so many real life skills! From interviewing, public speaking, networking, marketing and fundraising, to how to study. I could go on and on. I work in pharmaceutical sales and pageants prepared me so much for the real world and for my career.
Why did you decide to go back to the Miss Rodeo America pageant after your time as a titleholder and give back to the pageant?
I was Miss Rodeo Washington in 1996 and immediately following that year I joined the MRW board of directors and began volunteering for MRA. I served as National Director for Washington for 10 years, served 6 years on the MRA executive Board and have been on the MRA scholarship foundation for many years now. I am so proud to be the first state titleholder have served as the MRASF president.
Why is it important for former contestants and queens to give back to pageants they competed in or held a title for?
We need to have a continuous stream of volunteers. We all need to remember someone was there to volunteer when we competed, now it's our turn to give back. We have a unique viewpoint because we have lived it.
How did you become involved in the Scholarship Committee for MRA?
After serving as a National Director for 10 years I felt I needed a change and "retired". Once I wasn't involved on a state level any longer it opened me to apply to serve on the scholarship foundation and so I submitted my resume. I believe education is the greatest gift we can give someone. Helping to set young ladies up for their futures is amazing and I am so proud to be a part of the foundation.
Why is it so important that rodeo pageants across the nation give scholarships to the women competing in their pageants?
As I mentioned, education is the greatest gift we can give and it's something that no one can ever take away from you. The MRASF awards approximately $100,000 in scholarships every year including a minimum of $1000 to each contestant that competes at MRA. Local pageants that provide scholarships are supporting the young ladies who support them. Most local rodeo queens never get the opportunity to compete at MRA or for those scholarship monies. We need to assist these young ladies futures because they are the future of rodeo, agriculture and preserving our Western Way of Life!
Do you have any tips on how to grow scholarship funds in all levels of pageants especially the local level where it may be harder to do?
I highly recommend looking into forming a separate association for the scholarship funds and try to get federal non-profit status. Many companies need tax write offs and supporting the young ladies that represent rodeo is a fantastic opportunity. Think outside the box. People, businesses, etc only have so much product or finds to give. Don't go to those who are already donating large amounts to similar organizations. Additionally, you have to offer them something in return for their donation. It could be printed (and web) advertising or autograph sessions at their locations or whatever works best for them, but they need something. And once you have a sponsor or donor in place you have to continue to take care of them. Be loyal to their brand or company, thank them (written thank you cards as well as public recognition), promote them, praise them, make them want to continue to support your organization.
What is one piece of advice you would give to girls who are just starting out in the rodeo queen world? Remember that being a title holder is a full time 24/7 job. Even when you're not on an official appearance people still know who you are and will watch what you do. You must remember you are representing your title everywhere you go and In everything you do and say no matter if you're in your crown and banner or at the grocery store. Treat your board of directors as your bosses, your supporters and rodeos as your customers and do the best job you can. Oh and leave the cell phone in your pickup. Someone with their eyes glued to their phone is not approachable.
How important is it for us to give back to our pageants we were involved in? Very! Every year there is a team of volunteers that help out with running the pageants and even helping throughout each girl's reign. We are so fortunate to be in a industry that so many people are involved with and love to give back to. Our western way of life is so near and dear to each and every one of us and honestly volunteers are a big contribution to what keeps us going. Next time you're somewhere, thank a volunteer.
Thank you Karie so much for doing this interview with us! It's always great to get advice from someone who has been involved with the Miss Rodeo America pageant for many years!
Until next time,
Miss Ozark Rodeo Association Pageant
Photos courtesy of: Karie O'Donnell-Herbers