FAMILY. It’s a small word with a big meaning, which resonates differently with everyone. For most it refers to our biological family, but for some it also refers to other groups that we hold close in our hearts. Here is a look at a few of my families that make me, ME!
First and foremost, my biological family. While they can embarrass me, I will always love them for who they are because that made me who I am. My parents, Jeff and Lisa, raised me to dream beyond the horizon, always put my trust and faith in God, to love others unconditionally and never be afraid to laugh at myself. They have supported me full force and never once looked back. I also have two brothers, Tanner and Blake, to thank. They teased me and were usually “too cool”, but also taught me to stand up for myself and that I can do anything the boys can do, usually better. I may have tried to trade them for sisters (or monkeys) way back when, but now I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I am fortunate to have such a huge support system behind me. Even when they don’t understand, I know they’ll always have my back.
Growing up in 4-H gave me endless opportunities. It runs in my blood. I was involved in many projects but found my passion in the horse program. It gave me the knowledge and tools necessary to get my first horse and I couldn’t have asked for a better mount, Pony Nails. We qualified for regional and state 4-H shows in many events over the years. We were the dream team, until she was forced into early retirement and I had to train my first colt to replace her. I cherish my horses and all they have provided me with, but it’s the “family” that made my 4-H experience. Without them, that horse crazy little girl may not have grown into the horsewoman I am today. I am forever grateful for the memories and bonds I share with everyone from Kansas 4-H.
4-H carried into my K-State Family. I have always “bled purple” so attending Kansas State University was only natural. From its roots in the Agriculture Industry, to the beautiful location in the Flint Hills of Kansas, I was hooked. Being a Wildcat and walking across that stage to receive my Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Sciences and Industry is one of my proudest accomplishments. Being involved in many groups on campus allowed me to meet peers that had the same passions as myself and furthered my education in areas that mattered to me. My time as part of the “purple mob” is all thanks to fellow students, advisors and even employers. They continued to fuel my fire to be an active member of the Agriculture Industry.
I became a silent part of this family about 24 years ago when I was born in the Cowboy Capital, Dodge City, KS. Living in Southwest Kansas I always had an admiration for the farmers/ranchers that work so hard every day. That appreciation initiated my desire to take active part in different ways over the years. All of my experiences helped me learn and grow as a person, cattleman and horseman. They all taught me different things, but one thing that remains the same is the quality of people that surround me. I have met some of the greatest people and I am blessed to be part of the Kansas Agriculture Industry.
Last but not least, my rodeo/queen family. Over the years, I met some truly wonderful people. Those that gave their own time and efforts to help guide and teach me, put their faith in my ability to give me the confidence to pursue this dream, and those that still support and encourage me. I have added so many to this family this year; from other state queens to committees, stock contractors, and host families. They have taken me in and treated me like their own. I am beyond thankful to these kind, generous people and I’m excited to keep adding to them through my travels.
So, thank you to my families. All of them