Scholarships - Indian National Finals RodeoINFR Scholarship Recipients
It is within the mission statement of the INFR to recognize the importance of higher education. The Indian National Finals rodeo in conjunction with Fort McDowell Tribe, Indigenous Learning Company, (ILC), Dominica Valencia and Falmouth Institute, has awarded college scholarships to several commendable INFR members attending college. The INFR feels that higher education is an important aspect of a person’s life and it is the intent of the INFR to support the goals and aspirations of the members of the Indian National Finals Rodeo in their higher educational goals. The following individuals have been recipients of the Indian National Finals Rodeo Scholarships.
Jimi Lunak is currently working on her Master’s degree in Education with an emphasis on learning development. Along with being a graduate student and an Indian cowgirl she is also a second grade teacher. She is pursuing a Master’s degree to become a better teacher and to get a better understanding on how to meet the needs of each and every student she encounters. Indian rodeo has been Lunak’s life for more than 20 years. Her parents bought her a card when she was just six years old. From that time on she was hooked. The reason for her dedication to the sport of Indian rodeo is, “I want to keep it going strong for generations to come. Indian rodeo is a great organization because it is a place where families can be together. There is not any other organized sport that the whole family can participate and stay together as a family”. She contributes all of her success in her life to the fact that her whole family rodeoed together, and supported each other. Lunak says, “Support from family is the most important thing that any person could have and it’s even more important in rodeo. Indian rodeo has given me the confidence I have needed to achieve all I have in my life.”
Kyle Dennison is currently enrolled in a private college majoring in Physical Education. He has been rodeoing all his life and has discovered that the lessons, skills, and teachings learned from rodeo not only apply to his rodeo competition, but also to his academic achievements and lifelong learning. Dennison realizes that education is never ending just as the perfection of acquiring new methods to improve the competitiveness in rodeo is ongoing and never ending. It is with this belief that he continues to press on to receive his Bachelor’s degree and return and better serve his people one day.
Misty Tatsey is planning to receive her associate’s degree in Science with a major in Veterinary Science. This will later help her pursue a career in Equine Science. She ultimately wants to become a veterinarian who specializes in horses. Her love and reverence for horses shows an inspiration for her career, not only as a job, but also in the rodeo arena. Tatsey is in her freshman year and a long way from home. She realizes that life really is not as easy as she thought. There is so much that this world has to offer and she believes that a person will only get out of it what they put into it. At this time, she is in college trying to not only fulfill a childhood dream, but to also become a mature, responsible, wise adult. Being involved with the great sport of rodeo has had a huge impact on her life. She has been involved with rodeo since she was a little girl and has grown to love it and has chosen it as her lifestyle. Tatsey says, “Just like any other sport, rodeo comes with wins and losses, but you just have to work a lot harder to strive to win. Winning is never easy, but when the time comes it really pushes me over the hump and helps me get by.” Tatsey thinks to herself, “Everyday life is full of competition, you win some you lose some, but as long as I stay focused, my goals and dreams will be achieved.” For this, she realizes that she has to work exceptionally hard through her education which will help her in the rodeo arena.
Kendra Nicole Henry grew up with three older brothers and it was only natural for her to follow in her brothers athletic footsteps. In high school she earned four varsity letters in volleyball, basketball, track and field events. During the summer time, to stay active she participated in rodeo. Participating in high school sports and in the rodeo circuit really had a great influence on what she wanted to do with her life. She states, “The role and function of a teacher is to provide guidance and facilitate learning in an educational setting that supports a well-rounded program for all students. Teachers are vital in a working relationship with its community. Teachers have an expectation to have integrity and lead a professional life that will make a difference in the lives of their children.” For this reason, she has decided to become a secondary Physical Education teacher and to also coach competitive high school sports.
Shanna Johnson came into the 2005 INFR as the reigning Ladies Barrel Racing Champion. Johnson is majoring in Secondary Education and after she receives her degree plans to return to the reservation to teach high school reading. Eventually she plans to return to school to obtain a Master’s degree so she can reach her ultimate goal of becoming an administrator. Johnson seemed to have the perfect plan going in 2005 with rodeo, school, and life until her plans came to a crashing halt. At her region finals rodeo her horse of eight years, Heidi, fell coming home, breaks his femur. There was nothing that could be done for the great barrel horse and Johnson had to do the one thing that would destroy her, she had to put him down. She returned to college with a broken arm and as a completely different person. The life and plans she had known were now over. She attended the 2005 INFR with her head held high and is still trying to push on with her plans and copes with the loss of Heidi. When she looks at herself now she says, “I realize that there is more to life than always winning or that perfect horse or having your life all mapped out, it’s more about going out and getting what you can out of it. It’s about never giving up no matter what happens.”
Nolan Conway is currently an enrolled sophomore and has been attending and participating in rodeos for as long as he can remember. Rodeo is a large part of his family and has been passed down from generation to generation. Throughout the years he has become more attached to the sport and has developed a great love for rodeo. Conway is pursuing a degree in Elementary Education and plans to move back to the reservation to work with native youth. He wants to be a strong role model and a guiding hand for children. “Being a teacher would enable me to touch so many lives and show them all that is good in the world,” Conway stated. He would also like to thank his family for all the support and love he receives from them.
J.C. Guardipee is currently a fulltime student and eventually plans to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business. Rodeo has been a big part of his life from an early age. His family is very much involved in rodeo, so it was only natural for him to become active in the sport. He enjoys the competition it brings, and he is a very competitive person who lives to win. He feels that he is a role model for the younger generation who would like to compete in the sport of rodeo. Guardipee says, “I am always willing to help them learn how to rope or steer wrestle whenever the opportunity arises.”
Brittany Bird is currently a sophomore majoring in Business and plans to become a real estate appraiser. She comes from a long line of cowboys and cowgirls and it wasn’t a surprise that she would also participate in the sport. She competes in ladies breakaway roping and barrel racing and has competed in rodeo since she was a little girl. Without her dad, Sam Bird, none of this would be possible. Her dad has taught her everything she knows when it comes to rodeo or just life in general. Bird has realized in the past couple of years how much work, dedication and discipline it takes to be an Indian cowgirl. She says, “I love the sport of rodeo and it has taught me that nothing comes easy and to achieve your dreams you have to work hard.”
Jaci Etzkorn was just recently crowned the new 2005 Miss Indian Rodeo and was also a recipient of an INFR/Fort McDowell Scholarship. She is currently working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. She has been involved in “cowgirling” all her life. She started riding horses when she was about three years old and plans to continue to ride until she’s in her 80’s. She feels very lucky to have grown up in two great rodeo oriented families who were more than willing to help her whenever they could. Her hope is to one day become an Anthropologist because there is so much about our society to be learned not only from the past but in the future as well.
Katelin Loring of Cut Bank, Montana is currently in her third year of college at Arizona State University. Thus far, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA and has been admitted into the W.P. Carey School of Business. She plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business and go right into a master’s program. After completing her M.B.A. from Arizona State University she would like to enter the business world either working for a large industrial firm or by being an entrepreneur and starting her own business. She feels Indian Rodeo has influenced her a great deal. “It has opened my eyes to many other cultures; I have seen a lot of diversity in traveling from reservation to reservation. I have met many beautiful and inspiring people at these rodeos. Indian rodeo offers so much for its contestants and I am proud to be a member of the Indian National Finals Rodeo Association.”
Edward “Eddie” C. Hawley Jr. is currently a senior at MSU-Bozeman hoping to graduate with a B.S. in Construction Engineering Technology with a Business minor. His career goal is to work on or near a reservation. His interest in engineering comes from the knowledge he has gained from living on the Fort Belknap Reservation and working in various employment positions. He has been made aware of important issues that are affecting his reservation and surrounding communities. As with most Indian Rodeo contestants, roping is a family tradition for Ed. He says, “My parents have always told me that an education is yours, something you will always have.” He is very thankful for their support and wisdom. With perseverance and continued family support Ed Hawley will be a first generation college graduate.
Dee Hall reflects on how Indian Rodeo has changed in the last 20 years. As she remembers how Indian Rodeo was when she was a Jr. Indian Rodeo Champion the biggest question that comes to mind is “Where did all the educated cowboys and cowgirls come from?” She has decided that she too, would like to be an educated Indian cowgirl. She has seen Indian Rodeo grow from 50 contestants to 350. She has seen a trend with educated Indian cowboys and cowgirls with some being doctors, attorneys, teachers, and various other professions. Currently she is an educator at the Blackfeet Community College and will finish her Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in Learning Development this year. She has been a member of Indian Rodeo for 35 years and says Indian Rodeo has been an asset to her life and continues to be for her children.
Sadie Johnson is a senior attending the University of Montana - Western, majoring in Elementary Education. When she first started college she had no idea what she wanted to major in. She then became interested in the teaching profession while observing her mother, Robin Johnson, get her teaching degree. She has observed teachers and has truly come to love the teaching profession. She found that she can help children overcome the fear of learning and to teach them that anyone can learn. She feels there is no better way in helping someone than to be a teacher. She believes education is very important in life and is the building blocks to making dreams become a reality.
Ever since Sandi Campbell can remember, she has wanted to become a teacher. She remembers playing with her sister and cousin and actually making them do homework. She feels the classroom environment and the students are something that she could be around for the rest of her life. Being in a classroom makes her feel like she can help others. Sandi wants to be that teacher that makes a difference in her student’s lives. She is currently a junior in college at Montana State University - Northern, and will be doing her student teaching in the fall of 2007. Sandi is about a year away from making the wish she has had since she was a little girl come true.
Yolonda Nez was told when making her career decisions to enter an area that would generate enjoyment and curiosity. With that in mind, she derived her educational goals from the sport of rodeo. Rodeo has been a part of her life since the first grade. She is currently attending the University of Arizona and working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science with an Equine option. Going through college, Yolonda says her life has been trial and error, prolonging, and unpredictable. Yet she looks forward to graduating and establishing herself as a successful individual. She feels rodeo has played a positive role in her life. Not only has rodeo allowed her to travel to meet new people, it has helped her develop constructive characteristics. It has also expanded her point of view by taking her to new places in life, and establishing direction for her future to come.
Megan Lunak was born and raised in Browning, Montana on the Blackfeet Reservation. Currently, she is attending the University of Montana - Western. She is working toward a degree in Secondary Education, with an emphasis in English. She will complete this degree in the fall of 2007. Coming from a strong family, she has learned that an education and rodeo are not for the weak hearted. She also knows that both an education and rodeo are worth every single dedicated move she makes. She has dedicated her life to excelling in the wonderful sport of rodeo and will do her best to be a good ambassador of Indian Rodeo. Rodeo is a big part of who she is and who she will be in the future. When it comes to being in the classroom or the rodeo arena Megan always strives to give her personal best.
Latrice Tatsey’s main goal in life is to work hard helping the Blackfeet people become more aware of the importance of natural resources on the Blackfeet Reservation. To do this, she plans on pursuing her goal of a college education. Currently she is enrolled at the Blackfeet Community College working on a two year degree in Natural Resource Management. In the fall of 2008 she plans to transfer to Montana State University-Bozeman for a four year degree in Natural Resources.
Devyn Dennison is attending New Mexico Highlands University located in Las Vegas, NM. She plans on majoring in Architecture, and is currently majoring in Media Arts with a minor in Art. She really enjoys Media Arts and if she decides to stay in that field plans on creating her own design company. She would like to get a career started on or near her reservation, this way she may be able to benefit her people as much as she can. If she decides to major in Architecture she would like to open her own business and design new schools or buildings for the Navajo Nation and other Native American Reservations.
Tuck Johnson is currently a freshman at the University of Montana-Western. Rodeo is a way of life for Tuck and his family, a tradition, and one that he will proudly carry on and pass on to his children in the future. Relationships, determination, commitment and self-motivation are terms that come to mind when Tuck thinks back on his years of Indian rodeo. Tuck feels that receiving a scholarship helps him realize his dreams of achieving a college education while experiencing the college environment, dormitory life, and other opportunities that Native Americans deserve. “Attending a University will enhance my sense of independence and self-confidence while allowing me to overcome the intimidation many college bound students may encounter”.
Doug Fitzgerald is also attending Blackfeet Community College and a member of the BCC Rodeo Team. His course of study is Native American Studies. He feels this degree will help preserve his culture and language of the Blackfeet People. He feels college has been a great experience for himself and a big step for his future. College has taught him a lot of responsibility, self-awareness, and a true understanding of his capabilities. “Education will make me a better learner, also a better person. I enjoy every day that I have a chance to better my knowledge”.
Ray Champ who is a full-time employee at Blackfeet Community College and also attending Montana State University-Billings online wants to attain his bachelor’s degree in business management. Champ believes that education is a vital part of our society today especially for Native Americans. The business plans that he has for the future include becoming a full time announcer in the rodeo business.
Katelin Loring who has already earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management at Arizona State University has enrolled in the Masters of Business Administration at University of Montana and plans to receive her Master’s Degree in May of 2010. Loring would like to pursue a Ph. D upon the completion of her master’s degree.
Jon Wells is a first year college student attending the Correctional Studies Program at the Lethbridge College. His educational goal is to complete the Correctional Studies Program with nothing less than a 3.0 GPA and receive a diploma in the spring of 2011. Upon graduation Wells plans on being employed as a probation officer for 3 years, where he would gain the experience and knowledge in the field.
Charles Pesicka is currently enrolled in Gillette College majoring in Welding. Pesicka chose welding as his major because he is a hand on person and he enjoys working outdoors and indoors and he really likes to weld. He also believes that welding is also a demanding job in this century and has been for many years. With a welding job, it can bring a person to good income and bene-fits.
Raynell Holgate is a fulltime student attending the University of Arizona. As a physiology student, she plans to use her degree to apply to medical school. Eventually, Holgate wants to receive her doctorate and become a certified physician. With a rich and beautiful culture, she believes that her people deserve the chance to equal services in health care and other aspects. Holgate wants to help make that difference.
Dan Connelly is currently enrolled as a full time student in his second semester at Blackfeet Community College in the Health and Physical Education Department. Upon successful completion of this program, Connelly will have earned an Associate of Applied Science degree where he plans on transferring to a four year institution to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management.
Update on Scholarship Recipients
The Indian National Finals Rodeo would like to salute our past INFR scholarship recipients who have completed a college degree. The INFR is a big supporter of education and believes it is an important aspect of people’s lives. Congratulations to the following cowboys and cowgirls;
Jimi Lunak Champ finished her Master’s Degree in Learning Development from Montana State University - Northern and is currently teaching the 3rd grade at Browning Public Schools.
Kyle Dennison received a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development, with a minor in Physical Education from Prescott College.
Misty Tatsey has an Associate’s Degree in Education. She is currently pursuing her teaching degree.
Shanna Johnson White finished her Bachelors in English and is an eighth grade teacher at DeLaSalle Blackfeet Catholic School in Browning
Katelin Loring has received a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management and is currently working on a Master’s of Business Administration.
Eddie Hawley graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Construction Engineering Technology with a Business minor from Montana State University - Bozeman.
Dee Hall has a Master’s in Education and is currently the Chair of the Education Department at the Blackfeet Community College.
Sadie Johnson graduated from Western Montana College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education. She currently teaches 3rd grade at Browning Public School District.
Sandi Campbell received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and is currently a kindergarten teacher at Box Elder Schools.
Yolanda Nez Ricardo received a Bachelor in animal science from the University of Arizona.
Megan Lunak received a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Montana Western and is currently an English teacher at Cuts Wood Blackfeet School in Browning.
Latrice Tatsey received her Associates degree in Natural Resources from Blackfeet Community College. She is currently continuing her education at Montana State University – Bozeman.
Kari Zubach has a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work. She is currently working towards becoming a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and works at an elementary school as a School Therapist.
Shelby Merchant was born and raised on the Kikino Metis Settlement. She wishes to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. “I find myself always wanting to be involved with animals and certain situations they may get themselves into in regards to injury. I feel that with veterinary medicine I will be able to repay the animal that has made everything possible to me”. Shelby would like to establish her own clinic in her home town.
Mykayla Tatsey is currently enrolled at the University of Montana Western, and working towards a BS in Business Administration with a minor in Small Business Management. She is currently a senior at Western and is pleased to say that she has accomplished many goals that she has set for herself. Her future plans include moving back to the Blackfeet Reservation and starting a small business that will include agricultural and farming necessities. She plans on creating many jobs for her peers and being a successful entrepreneur. Mykayla plans on returning to the Blackfeet Reservation to be a positive role model for young children. She hopes to inspire and will encourage the Blackfeet youth to go to college.
Tiffany Rose Sinclair attended Montana State University Billings her freshman year of college and transferred to the Salish Kootenai College last fall. This spring she will graduate with her associate’s degree in business management. Her plans include enrolling in a four year educational institution to attain a bachelors and master’s degree in business. Someday she hopes to own and operate her own business as well as serve as an educational asset for the Blackfeet people. Tiffany considers, by owning and operating a business she can create more job opportunities for others, and still find time to coach high school girls’ basketball.
Malia VandenBos currently attends Montana State University Northern in Havre, Montana to obtain a nursing degree. Within the profession of nursing, many opportunities are available to her. She wants to help and care for people in need of medical assistance. Malia is very passionate about nursing and rodeo, and hopes to continue to do both.
Robert Wagner attended the College of Technology in Butte, Montana where he received a certificate as a lineman. Upon his completion of certification, he knew he wanted to continue his education, so he enrolled at the Blackfeet Community College. There he took up building trades. He is currently attending school at MSU-Billings in Billings Montana to work on his BA in Electrical Engineering. Since he has great passion for youth and love for rodeo, his dream is to go back to the Blackfeet Reservation and work with the youth.
William Turner is pursuing a degree in political science at the University of Calgary. He soon realized the majority of the subject matter he was learning was of a legal nature. His Aboriginal identity has spurred his interest in law and politics in areas that affect Aboriginal people, and he has naturally gravitated toward areas surrounding industrial activity. He is proud of his Native background and believes his abilities, as well as his education, are indebted to his ancestry. Where possible, he will utilize his education to benefit his family and larger Aboriginal population of Canada by representing their voice and culture in modern ways. Upon succeeding in law school and obtaining a Bachelor of Law, he hopes to represent Northerners facing the upcoming development of the Mackenzie Gas Project.
Emily Bell-Kallenberger was raised on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and is currently attending college at Montana State University – Northern in Havre, MT working towards a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She will begin her student-teaching internship this month and achieve her Bachelor’s degree in May of 2011. One of her goals is to instill a passion for learning within student and provide an environment that is encouraging and positive. She believes that coming to the right answer is a process, and the process should be encouraged and guided responsibly by her and in a classroom social environment that is also supported by their peers. She also believes this process should include and be supported by parents, faculty, and community.
Samantha Jo Bird is currently a student at Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Arizona where she is a member of the CAC Rodeo Team. She is majoring in Fine Arts and hopes to utilize her degree professionally within all areas of art. Sammy grew up on the Bird Family Ranch in Cut Bank, Montana. She started riding horses at an early age and continues to love and respect all horses and their abilities that they share with her. She gives credit to her parents for the support they give to her and her sister Brittany. Sammy knows that one day she will return to the Blackfeet Reservation and help with the youth in any way that she can.
Vince Tsosie is from Shiprock, New Mexico and currently in his fifth semester of college. He has been active with the college rodeo team and focused on his academics. He is pursuing a degree in Agronomy. His long term goals involve acquiring a Master’s degree from Utah State University while maintaining his commitment to riding bucking horses professionally. He plans to return to his hometown and assist and encourage the youth to excel and surpass what he has accomplished.
Jessica Not Afraid is currently a 2nd year student at Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency, Mt. She is a Liberal Arts Major and plans to graduate with an Associate’s degree in May of 2012. She is a member of the LBHC Rodeo Team which is part of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. She currently serves as the President of the Rodeo Club.
She loves horses and the sport of rodeo. Growing up on a ranch on the Crow Indian Reservation she has worked around cattle and her dad’s rodeo stock her entire life. She is a proud member of the Crow Tribe and takes part in cultural activities, such as dancing and parading horseback in her traditional outfit. She has been participating in these events from the time she was a toddler.
As a member of the Northern Plains Indian Rodeo Association she understands the importance of volunteering and working hard to make things successful. She has served as a past director for the Ladies and Jr. Barrel Racing and Jr. Breakaway Roping events. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice to put these regional rodeos on and to fund raise and solicit for year-end awards and prizes.
She has qualified to the Indian National Finals Rodeo twice in the barrel racing. Her goal is to qualify in both Breakaway Roping and Barrel Racing. She is proud of her family’s history with the INFR as competitors, secretaries and stock contractors. She would like someday to win a world title like her grandfather, the late Gary Not Afraid.
After graduating from Little Big Horn College, she would like to continue her schooling. She would like to earn her education and college rodeo at the same time. One of her goals is to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo. She is very interested in Business Administration. She would like to graduate with a college degree and become self-sufficient and also have a lifestyle that would allow her to continue to rodeo.
Robert Wagner is from Browning Montana and an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe. He is attending MSU Northern studying Electrical Technology and will be graduating in the spring of 2013. He has been on the MSU-Northern Rodeo Team and is currently doing very well.
His future plans in rodeo are to take it to the next level, taking a run at the Pro Rodeo Circuit. It’s hard for Robert to not put rodeo in his future plans being that he has been raised around it all his life and it just seems like a way of life for him. Rodeo has shown him the respect, honesty and the discipline he has today both in and out of the rodeo arena.
In 2010/2011 Robert competed in the Indian National Finals in the Saddle Bronc Riding. He ended the season in sixth place. He plans on coming back to win the prestigious title of Indian World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider. Indian Rodeo has been a huge part of his life and has helped him be the person he is today. Since he has a great passion for the youth in his community and has the love of rodeo, his dream is to go back to the Blackfeet Reservation and work with the youth and encourage them to be an Indian Cowboy and go to college.
Sierra Matt is 19 years old and currently a freshman at Blackfeet Community College. She was born and raised in Browning, MT. She is the first to attend college in her family. She is studying for an AA degree in Natural Resources and general studies. Her future plans are to graduate from BCC in 2013 and then transfer to a four year college and study Equine Science. She has been involved in High School Rodeo and is now competing in college rodeos. She has been raised around horses and rodeo all her life and hopes to continue her life working with horses and in rodeo.
Raynell Holgate a past world champion barrel racer is a physiology student and plans to use her degree to apply to Physician’s Assistant school. Her goal is to work in rural reservation towns and assist Native American communities with their health. Working personally with patients is a rewarding experience and she realizes that her passion is helping others.
She started competing in rodeos at the age of five and her first responsibility was her horse. He father always challenged her to put her horse first and keep an active and healthy lifestyle to continue competing. When she was eleven she trained her first barrel horse and has trained several since then. Working with horses is on a whole different level than working with people, and this is where she developed patience and understanding to train. Rodeo has influenced her life significantly and so has her horses.
With the many responsibilities in her life she often gets overwhelmed. But through her spirituality and traditional teaching she turns to prayer to give her the strength to persevere. No matter what life throws at her the main goal is to set a positive example to younger generations because she knows her role as a competitor in rodeo is influential.
Dakota Louis Lane Frost has always been Dakota’s hero while growing up. He wanted to be just like him because he is a world champion and rides bulls awesome. When Dakota won his first world title it was a dream come true. At the award banquet he wanted to say the same speech as Lane Frost did. He always remembers him saying that he wanted to be a good world champ for the fans and that’s what he wants. His life goals are very realistic for him to achieve because he feels he has the experience from being an Indian World Champion and has the experience of riding bulls.
He is currently a full time student at Western Oklahoma State University. He is an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and a 5th generation cowboy. His dad is a two time INFR World Champion Bull Rider and has shown him a lot about rodeo, being a good role model, being positive at every goal he sets, and what it takes to be a winner in and out of the rodeo arena. He believes in himself and believes that he will be successful not only in the rodeo arena but just life in general because he knows what it takes to be number one and that’s what he is going for. He is not going to quit until he is successful in anything and everything he does because not only himself but a lot of family and friends expect it out of him.
Collin Johnson is a sixth generation rancher as well as a full time student as a freshman at the New Mexico Junior College. Ranching and rodeo has always been a way of life for his family, a tradition he will carry on and proudly pass on to generations to come.
As he has grown into a young Indian rancher, he has become aware of the hardships that also come along with ranching. The hardships however have not clouded his passion for ranching. His need to live this lifestyle has only grown stronger over his short 18 years’ experience. He can only hope that he can pass his knowledge and understanding of the importance of ranching and agriculture to future generations. As a young Indian rancher, his knowledge of the business and ethics continue to grow with every passing season.
Self-motivation was something he developed over the years. He is confident in the knowledge he has acquired from generation before him that agriculture will lead him to a successful career on the Blackfeet Reservation.
Steven Dewolfe, Oglala Sioux, comes from a recognized rodeo family and has been involved in the sport his whole life. Barrel Racer Jessica Hebdon participates in both PRCA and INFR rodeos and she and her mom were first-time qualifiers at the 2012 INFR event. Ethan Weiser, the first in his family to attend college, says he has competed in rodeo since before he fully understood where rodeo could take him.
Zane Pitts is part of a family ranching operation with a personal aspiration to raise quality cattle and train horses, while Salish Kootenai College student Sunni Dixon, a would-be teacher, says “My heart is where children and horses are.”
Arizona’s Lyle Ben was raised on roping and ranching and participates in Navajo Nation rodeos. The youngest of five brothers, he was raised with the concept of student first and athlete second, although he freely admits, “As a team roper, the hardest thing to do is put school as your first priority.”
They have all done so however, like Nebraska’s Kaycee Werdel, a roper and rider who is convinced that, “Nothing can make you feel more at peace after a stressful day than going out and saddling up your favorite horse.”
Werdel’s educational interests lie in the Natural Resources area and she would like to continue her education beyond a Bachelor’s degree until she can add a PhD to her credentials.
“Attending college was one of the best decisions of my life and I don’t take the pursuit of higher education for granted,” she says. “My parents have instilled in me that if I work hard and get a good education, life will be easier. I know many kids don’t get an opportunity for the college experience and I want to make the most of it.”
Yolanda Nez is an actress, model, and Animal Science degree holder who calls Fruitland, New Mexico home. “I enjoy being around young minds and assisting youth in obtaining their goals as well as utilizing their cultural background in today’s society,” she says.
Other receiptants of the INFR Scholarships are below.Bios will be forth coming.
Amanda Not Afraid
Sydney Not Afraid