Saturday, September 8, 2018

An Interview with Miss Rodeo America 2018, Keri Sheffield

An Interview with Miss Rodeo America 2018, Keri Sheffield
by Gina McKnight
Archived from the August 2018 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete

“To be successful, you have to set goals, be willing to work hard toward achieving those goals, and believe in yourself.” Keri Sheffield

Loving everything horses and the equestrian lifestyle, it’s fun to connect with other horse lovers. This month, I had the great opportunity to connect with Miss Rodeo America 2018, Keri Sheffield. Traveling throughout the United States, Keri is the official representative of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Keri also represents the core values of America (the cowgirl way), making appearances to over 120 rodeos, civic groups, children’s hospitals, schools, and other events where she spreads the cowgirl spirit.

The 2017 Miss Rodeo Florida, Keri is from Summerfield, Florida. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Berry College and works as an ICU nurse. Winning Miss Rodeo America 2018, Keri was awarded more than $20,000 in scholarships. Next year, she plans to return to college to become a nurse anesthetist and realizing her goal to serve as a medical missionary.

Miss Rodeo America began in 1955 in Casper, Wyoming. Now, 60+ years later, horses have not changed much, and cowgirls still rule. The rodeo circuit continues and the way of the cowgirl is going strong.

Welcome, Keri!

GM: Keri, I am thrilled to connect with you and talk about your rodeo career and what it takes to become successful! Congratulations on your accomplishments! As a cowgirl, you've participated in pole bending, breakaway roping, barrel racing, and goat-tying. What has been (or still is) your favorite rodeo event?
KS: Barrel racing and roping remain my favorites when I’m competing! My favorite Pro Rodeo events to watch as a spectator, though, are saddle bronc and bareback riding. The magnitude of power those horses exude each time they enter the arena is an incredible thing to witness.

GM: Tell us about your horse history - your first encounter with a horse and the horse(s) you currently stable...
KS: I received my first horse from my aunt when I was six years old. He was an old palomino named Mabel, and he carried me through the first couple years of junior rodeo. I now own one American Quarter Horse named Chickbo! She is an 18 year old sorrel horse, and I competed on her throughout my entire high school rodeo career. (Our best event was goat tying!) Chickbo is one of those amazing horses I would feel comfortable letting anyone ride (including my six nieces and nephews)! She’s been hauled to countless rodeos, and there isn’t a single job I can think of that she hasn’t done.

GM: Do you have advice for novice riders or those looking to become a rodeo rider?
KS: Look into your local/state rodeo associations! I joined the Southern Junior Rodeo Association when I was six years old and then continued on to compete in the Florida High School Rodeo Association. They were both great associations that reinforced many of the valuable lessons I was being taught at home, such as the importance of family, success at school, hard work, and good sportsmanship.

GM: As a beauty queen, you've traveled far and near to promote Florida, SJRA, FHSRA, and the cowgirl lifestyle. What is your daily beauty routine? 
KS: My great grandmother (who lived to be 97) once told me that her secret to having great skin and no wrinkles was to always wash her face with cold water. Therefore, I wake up each morning and wash my face with cold water before applying moisturizer with sunscreen in it!  I think taking care of your skin is a top priority, so my daily beauty routine is really focused around that first and foremost.

GM: Keri, you are beautiful inside and out! Who has been the most influential person in your life and how have they helped you in your life's journey to success?
KS: There is no way I could pick only one person! My entire family has been so influential in my success. They have always believed in me and my dreams, encouraging me to pursue them every step of the way. My mom and dad took me to every junior and high school rodeo (which was almost every weekend), drove a motorhome and horse trailer across the country to the National High School Rodeo Finals, and drove a motorhome transporting my entire Miss Rodeo America wardrobe from Florida to Las Vegas, Nevada last December. My older brother and sister are some of my biggest cheerleaders and continue to help me out any way they can. Without each one of them, I would not be where I am today. They have helped me study, drive to rodeos, proofread resumes and pageant applications…the list goes on and on! They have pushed, supported, and loved me unconditionally this entire journey.

GM: You have worked very hard to meet your current day accomplishments. What is the key to success and right living?
KS: To be successful, you have to set goals, be willing to work hard toward achieving those goals, and believe in yourself. I’m also a firm believer that you should be passionate about your goals, because loving what you do results in happiness. Above all, though, to live right you must have faith in God and trust His plan for your life.

GM: What are your future goals as a cowgirl and in your professional career?
KS: As a cowgirl, I would love to barrel race and rope more next year. The love for rodeo runs in your blood; there’s simply no getting away from it. (I would never want to!) As far as my professional career, when my reign as Miss Rodeo America ends, I will go back to work full time as an Intensive Care Unit nurse and then apply for a doctoral degree program in 2020 to become a nurse anesthetist.

GM: Thank you, Keri, for representing the rodeo lifestyle and the American cowgirl! At the end of the day, we are thankful for so many things, but, somehow it all comes back to horses. What does horsemanship mean to you?
KS: Horses are an integral part of the history and culture of our country. They have served mankind in so many facets throughout history, and it is so very important that we continue working to ensure they are given the respect they’re due. To me, horsemanship is based on the establishment of a human connection with a horse; it is not only the skill but the art of learning how to navigate, understand, and manage the natural instincts of these amazing animals.

Connect with Keri…

Gina McKnight is a freelance writer and rider from Ohio USA.

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