Giving of time and labor for youth |

Giving of time and labor for youth

Ruth Nicolaus
Courtesy of the Adams County Ag Society
Courtesy PhotoJudy Mignery of Hastings, Neb., is one of dozens of volunteers who help at the annual Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo, held in Hastings on June 22-25.

Take 165 high school kids, add 225 horses, 100 head of cattle, and mix them up with three days of rodeo competition in Hastings, Neb., at the Adams County Fairgrounds.

What’s missing from the recipe? Volunteers.

It takes lots of help to put on the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo, held every June in Hastings, and people have stepped up to make it work.

Stan and Glenda Ruhter of Prosser, Neb., have volunteered every year the High School Finals have been in Hastings, since 2003. They own livestock themselves, and enjoy the western lifestyle and being around youth. “I like the action,” Stan says. He usually works near the roping box, where the tie-down ropers, team ropers and steer wrestlers compete. “It’s very rewarding for us.” Their sons participated in open and 4-H horse shows, and now one of them ranches south of Ainsworth.

Glenda volunteers by running the gate for barrel racers and pole benders, and loves being around the kids. She and Stan also volunteer during the Oregon Trail Rodeo, which is held Labor Day weekend at the Adams County Fairgrounds.

Sandy Himmelberg, manager of the fairgrounds, says that the volunteers are priceless for the high school event. “They do everything from setting up panels, putting up banners, helping run rodeo events, helping with the barbecue, taking tickets, whatever. We absolutely could not run this event without them.” She estimates that the 60 volunteers for the High School Finals put in about 300-plus hours, “and probably more, if we knew the truth.”

This is the ninth year for Hastings to host the event, and Himmelberg says the High School Finals committee has been dedicated to keeping the event in town. “When we got it here that first year, the parents and kids were impressed. I think part of that is because we have volunteers who understand what it takes to put it on, and a committee who understands the commitment to it. It’s a huge commitment.” The eight person board is a subdivision of the Oregon Trail Rodeo committee, and includes Dwight Dunsworth, Lee Hogan, Boyd and Judy Mignery, Justin Osborne, Dave Rethorst, Dave Schnase, and Marv Sierks.

The Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo takes place June 22-25. Boys and girls cutting will be at 7 a.m. on June 23-24 with the finals at 8 a.m. on June 25. Rodeo performances will be held on June 23 and 24 at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. with the finals to be held at 1 p.m. on June 25. For more information, visit