When Emily Taylor chose her slogan “Ride of a Lifetime” to define her reign as Miss Rodeo Nebraska 2016, she had no way of knowing how true the catchphrase would prove to be.
Now with her reign almost over, the Battle Creek native has found herself reflecting on the many adventures that have come her way and pondering the numerous opportunities that have been offered to her. None of it would have been possible had a crown not been placed on her hat June 17, 2015.
“I look back on who I was then, and I’m not the same person,” said Taylor. “It’s for the best. I feel like I’ve grown and matured so much. I’m prepared for whatever life throws at me.”
Taylor’s run in 2015 was her second attempt at the MRN title. She had tried for it in 2014 as well, but lost to Gina Jespersen, of Hemingford.
“I always say that God’s timing is never wrong,” said Taylor. “I was not ready for the title the first time. I wasn’t in the right place with my schooling, and I needed to grow as a person.”
The latter certainly happened this year. Taylor logged about 29,000 miles crisscrossing the country to promote her home state, the Miss Rodeo Nebraska Association and the sport of professional rodeo.
Doing so helped her develop strong communication skills, enabled her to make important connections, and maybe most importantly, gave her a newfound confidence and a sense of independence.
“Basically, I had to learn how to think on my own,” said Taylor. “I had to learn how to fly on my own, which included navigating through the largest airports in the country. I had to figure out how to change a tire in the middle of the Interstate and what to do when my vehicle broke down.”
Although sometimes challenging, the experiences paid off. The skills Taylor gleaned from her reign will stick with her for life and likely set her apart from other candidates in job interviews.
Offers for employment are already streaming in thanks to the networking opportunities the title has granted Taylor in the equine, rodeo and fashion industries.
They will all have to wait, however, until after Taylor competes in the Miss Rodeo America Pageant in Las Vegas, Nev. from Nov. 27-Dec. 4. Whether she trades her crown for the national one or not, Taylor will walk away a winner.
“The Miss Rodeo Nebraska title has enabled me to do so many things that I probably never would have done otherwise,” said Taylor. “I’ve visited California and Florida – twice. I’ve gone wild boar hunting, ridden on airboats, played on the beach and seen gators in the wild.”
The experience also altered her plans for the future. A year ago, Taylor was planning to pursue a career in public relations. Now, the first generation cowgirl is changing her focus to agricultural education.
“I’ve realized after all the visits to elementary schools, just how important ag education is to kids,” said Taylor. “I want to be part of that influence.”
A public send-off is planned for Taylor before she heads to Vegas. It will be Nov. 11 at Harbor Lights Gatherings, 711 North Lake Road, in North Platte.
Festivities will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by a prime rib dinner and style show at 7 p.m., during which, Taylor will model outfits she plans to wear at the MRA Pageant.
Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for children, Lil’ Cowgirls and visiting royalty. They must be reserved by Nov. 4 and are available by calling Lolly Klug at 308-582-4523.