When most people think of a cowgirl they imagine a young woman who was raised on a ranch and riding horses since she was knee high to a grasshopper. That was not the case for myself, 2016 Miss Rodeo Iowa, Shelby Chapman. I was born and raised in the small town of Adel, Iowa and although my parents both had roots in agriculture they were not involved in the industry. My passion for animals began at a young age as I spent most of my free time volunteering at the local animal shelter. Having relatives involved in agriculture and many friends active in 4-H, I decided to join them in hopes of learning more about the agricultural industry. It was there that I rode my first horse at the age of 13. I knew my parents could not afford a horse, so I delivered newspapers, worked for a sheep farmer and collected every pop bottle and can in the county. Just two months after my first horseback ride, I met my goal of raising two thousand dollars to purchase a horse.
The day I purchased my first horse was the day I realized I could achieve any goal with hard work and perseverance. Since then, I became actively involved in 4-H as well as County Council, holding many offices within the clubs, showing cattle, horses, rabbits, dogs, cats and even the gold fish from my backyard pond. During this time I discovered I truly enjoyed competing in rodeos. Traveling across the Midwest competing in barrel racing was a dream come true for a girl who grew up in town. While competing in rodeos I met a friend who introduced me to rodeo queening. I later earned the titles of Miss Dallas County Fair Rodeo Queen in 2008 and Miss Teen Rodeo Iowa in 2009. Having the opportunity to promote the sport I loved was an exciting opportunity that encouraged me to compete for Miss Rodeo Iowa.
While earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science at Iowa State University, I continued to barrel race. Upon completion in 2013, I joined TriOak Foods in Southeastern, Iowa as a Swine Fieldman. In September of 2015, I competed for the title of Miss Rodeo Iowa. It is an honor to represent the state I love as well as its agricultural industry and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. I used to be embarrassed at the fact that I grew up in town, but now I embrace it. As I look back on my life, I see how my hard work and dedication has helped me live the life I always dreamed of as a child. My objective throughout my reign is to inspire others to pursue their goals no matter their background. As H. Jackson Brown, Jr. noted, “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”