Greetings from the Keystone State! My name is Amanda Kowalczyk, and I’m your 2017 Miss Rodeo Pennsylvania. Without a doubt, the question I’m asked most when traveling as a state titleholder is “They rodeo in Pennsylvania?” And the answer, of course, is a resounding yes! Pennsylvania may be too mountainous to house the expansive ranches I’ve seen out west, but agriculture is still our number one industry, and we have rodeos that run all year long.
Like many rodeo people in Pennsylvania, I don’t come from a farming or horse-related background; in fact, I’m the first person in my family to ever ride! I was born with the horse bug, and I begged my parents until they finally allowed me to start riding lessons when I was seven. Most of my riding career was spent in an English saddle in the hunter/jumper ring, but I always loved rodeo and I have more recently been able to pursue my interest in western riding.
Outside of the horse world, the main focus of my life has always been my education. Even now, as I spend my weekends traveling all over the country to promote rodeo and the western way of life, I’m working on my PhD in computational biology, an educational expedition that will take me four more years to complete. I love science, and I love my job as a sort of professional student, but I also love horses, rodeo, and agriculture, and all of those, in some cases apparently disparate, interests were a major factor driving me to be a rodeo queen. Although at times this year I’ve felt as though I have a foot in two worlds, one in the rodeo world and one in the world of academia, the fields are remarkably similar. Both require uncommon knowledge, work ethic, grit, and determination, and my educational history has undoubtedly benefited me in the rodeo world.
The other factor that steered me toward rodeo queening was my experience as fair queen for my local fair, the Derry Township Agricultural Fair. In Pennsylvania, we have an amazingly robust fair queen system in which each queen is expected to be a knowledgeable representative who promotes her fair, requirements similar to the expectations for rodeo queens. I loved promoting my fair and Pennsylvania agriculture for my fair queen title, and I didn’t want to stop after my year ended. I found out about the Miss Rodeo Pennsylvania contest, and the rest is history!
During my time as a state titleholder, I have attended spectacular rodeos that are greater than anything I could have ever imagined. I have met amazing people and made friendships that will stay with me long after the last time I remove the crown from my hat. Most importantly, being Miss Rodeo Pennsylvania has pushed me to be more than I ever was before. It pushed me outside of my timid shell and onto a national stage with expectations I had never previously experienced. I have already overcome challenges as a titleholder that I could never have faced before and I have accomplished feats beyond my wildest imaginations. I only hope to continue striving to be a worthy representative of professional rodeo and Pennsylvania through the second half of the year.
My time as Miss Rodeo Pennsylvania has already been the ride of a lifetime, and I know the rest of the year will be equally as fantastic. Life’s greatest journeys often take us places we would never expect, and my time as a title holder has been no exception. Even just a few years ago I never would have believed that I would one day be a rodeo queen, but I’m so happy that my path has brought me to where I am today! I hope to make you all proud by continuing to represent Pennsylvania with the utmost grace and dignity.
Miss Rodeo Pennsylvania