Madison Clark wants to be queen.
She’s already the rodeo queen for the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association, and she’s queen of her brothers’ and parents’ hearts, of course, but she has her eye on a higher award.
Someday, she wants to be Miss Rodeo Nebraska, and then, Miss Rodeo America.
It all started when she was 4.
She was in North Platte at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo when she saw all the rodeo queens, and “I was just like, I really want to do that.”
For the 17-year-old cowgirl, a resident of Wellfleet and a junior at Medicine Valley High School in Curtis, everything about rodeo and queens appeals to her.
“I love being a cowgirl,” she said. “I love rodeoing, and I was on a horse before I could walk. I love dressing up, I love public speaking, and it’s a combination of all that. The rodeo queen gets to spread the word about rodeo, be a representative of it, and it’s something I love.”
The ambitious girl doesn’t slack off in school, either. She is on her school’s two-time district champ Quiz Bowl team, (she won the Knowledge Bowl held at last year’s National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyo.), is in her second year as president of her FFA Chapter, is president of her class, is on the honor roll, a member of the National Honor Society, runs cross country, gives swimming lessons, gives 4-H roping lessons on Friday nights, and will be a lifeguard at the Curtis pool this summer again.
And she competes in high school rodeo, in the breakaway roping, team roping and pole bending.
Even though she’s a rodeo queen, she’s not scared of dirt.
“I’m not a tomboy, but I’m not a girly-girl, either,” she says.
Being a rodeo queen can teach a lot of skills useful to girls, she says.
“It helps you out with your horsemanship skills. You become a much better rider. And it helps with public speaking and interview skills, and your preparation and organizational skills.”
The most challenging moment she’s had as high school queen came last July when she ran for the National High School Rodeo Association queen. She had to give her speech in front of a crowd of 400 people.
“I overcame a big fear there, because I’d never spoken in front of such a big crowd.”
Madison will run for Miss Nebraska High School Rodeo Queen again this June, and then try for the national high school rodeo queen title again, after finishing as third runner-up last year.
Then, her queen plans are on hold till she’s completed two years of college. She’ll follow her brothers, Wyatt and Jaden, to the University of Wyoming, where she’ll either major in psychology or pre-law.
“I’ll either go on to law school or get my doctorate in clinical psychology,” she says. Both fields appeal to her, because “you have to deal with people, and be able to understand people. I’m a big people person, and I like to talk. And I have a lot of energy, which both of them require.”
And after her second year of college, she feels she’ll have a little more experience and maturity to run for Miss Rodeo Nebraska, and hopefully that leads to Miss Rodeo America.
But before that, there are rodeos at which to compete, horses to ride, cross country meets to make, FFA meetings to preside over, and more hairspray to buy.
Depending on her rodeo standings, Madison will compete at the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo in Hastings for the third time June 19-21. Her older brothers, Wyatt, who is 22, and Jaden, who is 19, were also high school rodeo members. She is the daughter of J.R. and Julie Clark. ❖
Ruth Nicolaus writes for the Adams County Ag Society.