Today we kick off the return of our famous segment, Titleholder Tuesday! There is no better way to kick it off than with one our very own. We are very appreciative of how well Haley did as Miss ORA and how much she gives back to the program after the crown. Our pageant relies heavily on volunteers and Haley is always available to give suggestions on we can further grow our program. Keep reading to get a look at Haley's year and see what she has been up to since giving up her title.
What got you involved with the rodeo queen industry?
Miss ORA 2017, Gabrielle (Cuttler) Brown, invited me to my first rodeo, which sparked my interest. She encouraged me to try the pageant for the 2018 title. I was named runner-up but knew I didn’t want to give up this newfound dream of being a rodeo queen. I ran again in 2019 and was blessed to win the title!
What were some of your favorite memories of being Miss ORA 2019?
There are so many! From grand entries, meeting new people and building lasting friendships, attending the Miss Rodeo USA pageant as visiting royalty, our photoshoot with Sherry Smith, volunteering to cook breakfast at the Ronald McDonald house with Cookin’ Queens, I could go on and on.
As someone who went through the Miss ORA Pageant twice, first time winning 1st runner up, what made you decide to compete again? Also, what would you tell the girls that give up and don't return after not winning the first time?
I knew that my goal was to be a rodeo queen and honestly, I really liked the ORA and the ORA pageant. To me, it was a comfortable and friendly place to be, and I wanted to represent that. My belief is that everything happens for a reason and while its hard to accept sometimes, there was a reason it didn’t work out. You just need to remain positive and know that there is something else waiting for you! Even though I didn’t win in 2018, I gained so much from that experience, that I wouldn’t change winning 1st runner up for anything. It can be difficult to return after not winning the first time, but do not be embarrassed or ashamed to return! Take all you can from that experience and use it to build!
What are the skills gained during your year as Miss ORA 2019 and how did they prepare you for where you are now in life?
Soft skills are something employers look for in potential employees, but they are not easily taught in classes. These skills refer to your ability to communicate, work with a team, time management, and leadership. As a queen, you build on all these skills during your year. I was able to further develop my soft skills which has only helped me in my career!
What does life look like for you now that you are no longer queening?
After my year as Miss ORA 2019, I finished my masters degree in beef cattle nutrition at the University of Nebraska. Currently, I am working on my PhD in beef cattle nutrition at the University of Illinois. In my free time, I enjoy riding my horse, Sandy, and am training for my 5th half marathon.
What is one thing you always made sure you had with you whenever you were traveling to a rodeo?
Hairspray! Specifically Got 2B Glued brand. Not just for keeping your curls and wings in place but I found spraying the inside band of my hat with it then securing with bobby pins was the best way to ensure my hat stayed on during grand entry!
Looking back on your time preparing for the pageant and even after winning the title, is there anything you would've done differently?
Honestly no. I was very confident in myself during the pageant because I knew I was prepared. At that point I had done all I could do, and it was up to the judges. In preparation for the pageant, I worked with a coach, Lisa Lucia; rode with a trainer and made sure I got on different horses; and read the ORA rulebook! After winning the title, I wish I would have connected with my fellow titleholders sooner. We all did become close, but it took time throughout the rodeo season. I wish I would have started developing those friendships earlier, so I had even more time with those girls!
What piece of advice would you give to girls that are interested in competing in the rodeo queen industry?
Take the leap and just do it! The ORA pageant is a great place to start – its beginner friendly but well run and organized. There are a lot of opportunities for titleholders, but you will gain a lot just from competing!
We can't thank Haley enough for taking time out of her schedule to kick off the restart of our blog! Stay tuned for next week!