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Rodeo royalty fits FHSU student just fine

2/3/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

Kara Hackney has been involved in rodeo pageants for more than 10 years.

Hackney, a senior at Fort Hays State University, was second runner-up at her first pageant in 2003.

"There were only three contestants," she said. "When I didn't win, I wanted to keep doing this until I win."

In 2013, she won the prestigious title of Miss Rodeo Kansas.

"It's kind of similar to beauty pageants," Hackney said, "but Miss America type pageants are more focused on looks and talent. You could say our talent is riding horses. We also are judged on personality, appearance and knowledge."

Hackney said the knowledge portion quizzes contestants on rodeo information as well as current events.

"They want to see how well you think on your feet," she said. "They interview you and give you a written test. Studying was definitely was the hardest part for me because you can never know everything."

During her year as Miss Rodeo Kansas, she traveled throughout Kansas and the U.S.

"I even went to Canada once," Hackney said. "It was all about promoting Kansas, the rodeo and the Western way of life."

She spent the majority of her time at rodeos, signing autographs and attending school and community events.

"My favorite part was being able to see how the kids reacted," Hackney said. "Kids seem to pay more attention to what you say when you have the crown on your head and sash around your chest.

"Being able to see the small things that I did made such a big impact on someone else's life, it was just humbling."

Hackney said it was bittersweet to see the year end, but she's excited to focus on school and other activities.

"I had a great year, and I met so many great people," she said. "I saw a grizzly bear and her cubs. I also got to see the ocean for the first time. There are just so many experiences that make the year so memorable."

In December, she competed for the title of Miss Rodeo America. She finished in the top 10.

"There were 27 competitors," Hackney said. "A lot of people are surprised to find out there is rodeo in every state. Hawaii actually has a big rodeo. That surprises most people."

Hackney, a communications major with an emphasis in journalism and agriculture minor, is awaiting her next opportunity after graduation in May.

"I own my own photography business, so I stay pretty busy with that," she said. "With my journalism degree, I would like to do some kind of writing. Freelance would be preferable."