Queen contest coordinator Kellie Yackley of Onida said the South Dakota High School Rodeo event is an opportunity to learn life skills that will benefit the girls for the rest of their lives.

That seemed true for this year's winner, Kelly Schopp of Meadow. Schopp is the daughter of Ray and Julie Schopp and is starting her senior year of high school at Lemmon this fall.

She has participated in the sport of rodeo, particularly barrels and the queen contest for the past four years. She took top honors in the areas of appearance, personality, interview, speech and the modeling and photogenic award.

Schopp has enjoyed participating in the sport of rodeo since she was 10 years old.

"I tell the girls that anyone who can handle an interview in front of six judges can handle any job interview they come into," said Yackley, who also was involved with high school rodeo more than 20 years ago.

Yackley has coordinated this high school rodeo event for the past two years and is proud of the SDHSRA heritage and what it can provide for the young people. She is a volunteer coordinator and does her job for the benefit of the youth.

"I believe in paying it forward," said Yackley, who puts a great deal of time and effort into the event.

South Dakota is a charter member of the NHSRA, helping to start the organization in 1951 and now has non-profit status. The state was one of the states to compete at the first National High School Rodeo Finals.

Members are required to conduct themselves in an exemplary manner, to abide by a western dress code while competing, and to maintain their grades at the same level as other school sports. 

Schopp will continue a tradition of carrying the sport of rodeo in South Dakota to many different areas and events including: Black Hills Stockshow, the Black Hills Roundup and the Days of '76.

Schopp plans to attend college after she finishes high school at Lemmon, but not in the sport of rodeo.

"I plan to attend either the University of Wyoming or Northern State in Aberdeen," said Schopp after her victory on Saturday, June 18 at the Belle Fourche rodeo grounds. "I want to either be a high school history teacher or become a (registered nurse)."

First runner up was Tyler Hintz of Aberdeen Central High School, who also won the horsemanship and was the test award winner. Second runner up was Jayton McKay of Wall High School.

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