Rodeo Queen to MHHS Teacher, Mrs. Southard shares her story


Miss Pawnee Bill Headshot.(Cherie Flowers Photography)

Brook Lawing, Reporter/Photographer

Taken by: Wynnewood, OK IPRA Rodeo

In 2011 Mrs. Southard won the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant. Being a rodeo queen requires a lot of hard work and determination. You have to learn how to do things on your own. A rodeo queen is a female representative and face of the sport of rodeo. She represents her rodeo, association, or region for a standard time of usually 12 months and is usually required to wear a cowboy hat, crown, and sash with her title on it.

What motivated you to compete in this event? 

” I have competed in rodeo events and in rodeo queen pageants since I was 4 years old.  I won my first rodeo queen pageant at age 6, and continued to compete throughout my youth, high school career, and even while in college.  Some of the women that I looked up to, that helped to coach me, had competed and placed at the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant. Therefore, it kind of went without saying that when the time presented itself, I would compete for the title as well.  In addition, the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant is a national competition. I had always dreamed of competing and winning a national title.”

 Can you tell me a little bit about the event?  

“When I competed in January of 2011, the pageant was a week-long in conjunction with the International Finals Rodeo (the finals for the International Professional Rodeo Association or IPRA).  It took place in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Throughout the week, the other contestants and I was judged on the following categories; personality, appearance, photogenic, modeling, horsemanship, public speaking, and knowledge through interviews and taking a written test.  We had to give two timed public speeches- one on our state or rodeo that we represented and one on our platform. We competed in a horsemanship competition where we rode unfamiliar horses and completed a reining pattern. We were questioned through numerous interviews and completed a very lengthy written test about the history of the pageant, the IPRA, rodeo, equine facts, and even current events.  We were also asked on-stage questions. The coronation took place the following Sunday where I became the first young woman from Arkansas to ever win the title as well as the first Miss Pawnee Bill (I represented a rodeo out of Pawnee, Oklahoma). “

How did this event impact your future?  

“I won the title of Miss Rodeo USA at a fairly young age.  I had just turned 20 a week before the pageant. As Miss Rodeo USA I traveled across the United States and even into Canada representing the sport of rodeo.  I got to travel to places and meet people that I never would have without the title of MRUSA. I even had the opportunity to carry flags at the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas and was interviewed by Craig Morgan.  Throughout the year, I had to travel by myself the majority of the time, learning how to navigate and communicate with people on all levels. I was practically my own agent. I learned a lot of valuable life lessons and made connections that I still use to this day.  Being Miss Rodeo USA led me to the realization that family is one of the most important things in life. This realization was one of the key factors in choosing my career…teaching.”

 Why do you think you won? 

” I won the speech award, the high test award, and the horsemanship award along with the title of Miss Rodeo USA 2011.  Rodeo has always been such a big part of my life. Because of that, I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable about it makes me a good representative of the sport.  However, the biggest reason that I believe I won is that I had an amazing support system behind me. When I decided that I wanted to compete for the title, my parents told me that I had to give it my all; that if I was going to compete at that level, I had to really put the work in and have no regrets.  I designed outfits and had them made. I sought out help from knowledgeable people on current events. I gave my speeches to anyone and everyone. I made notecard after note card and studied months leading up to the pageant. I rode as many different horses as I could. I had random people ask me questions about rodeo.  I sought advice from past Miss Rodeo USA titleholders. I asked for help! The worst thing someone could say was “no” and I was okay with that. Family and friends did all that they could to help and support me as I prepared. I did everything I could possibly think of to prepare for the pageant. During the week of the pageant, I know that there were a lot of prayers being said for me.  It was a team effort. And I am very thankful that God blessed me with the opportunity to have the title of Miss Rodeo USA 2011.”


Shady Dale, GA IPRA Rodeo (Seven Springs Photography)