During her reign as Miss Rodeo Kansas 2015, Abbey Pomeroy has spoken to a number of groups, including a legislative agriculture committee. She even was introduced to the Kansas House and Senate.
?Oh yes ? standing ovation,? the smiling Hesston native said after being asked if they applauded.
Giving a standing ovation figuratively to 4-H is what Pomeroy has been doing while wearing the crown.
For instance, on the night of July 16, she was a guest project leader during the 4-H horse arena practice. Youth with 4-H horse projects have to do three arena practices to compete in the county fair, Pomeroy said. This includes children in anything from showmanship to pleasures classes to special events.
?I was home, and I wanted to spend time with the kids,? Pomeroy said, adding that during her reign, she?s promoting 4-H. ?That?s a good way to give back to 4-H during my year on the road.?
During practice, she had 4-Hers do patterns with horses and work on posture, and then asked the participants to come up with a combined two compliments for the one doing the pattern.
?I think that?s a very positive involvement for kids to interact with each other,? Miss Rodeo Kansas said. ?Positive things like that is what 4-H is all about.?
Pomeroy definitely believes 4-H had a positive impact on her life. She joined the Hesston Wranglers 4-H Club at the tender age of 6 and spent 12 years in the organization.
?I had two older siblings, and I was so excited to start,? Pomeroy said on a hot summer night with storm clouds building in the background. She and her three siblings were in 4-H, as she also has a younger sibling.
While in the Hesston 4-H club, Pomeroy earned a 4-H Key Award because she kept a record book those years, which, in part, included recording finances. It?s one of the highest honors given to Kansas 4-Hers, according to www.kansas4-h.org.
The organization offers youth the opportunity to learn many building blocks in life, like responsibility, since some have to wake up and take care of their animals, Pomeroy said.
?There are so many skill builders,? Pomeroy said.
And that?s why Pomeroy wants to give back to 4-H as an adult because the organization helped her so much. When she was young, she had project leaders help her, and now she?s giving back in that arena.
As a youth, Pomeroy?s 4-H projects included sheep, cattle and horses, as well as a great many art projects. Leatherworking was her main art project; however, she also did a few jewelry sets and did a woodworking project one year.
?The nice thing is 4-H offers a project for every child ? every interest,? Pomeroy said.
If there?s not a project a child is interested in, he or she can come up with his or her own, she said.
In addition to animal projects, youth can do photography, cooking and baking, sewing, rocketry, archery and other projects.
Pomeroy was quite involved in 4-H as a youth ? so much so she jokingly said she grew up in the 4-H barn on the fairgrounds.
?The one across the street ? the nice metal barn,? Pomeroy said from the rodeo grounds in Newton.
Her memories of the fair include fun impromptu water fights, Supporters Picnic, carnival and rodeo.
?That was fantastic,? Pomeroy said about the picnic, which in the past has included a meal, fashion show and door prizes.
In 2000, Pomeroy was the Newton Saddle Club prin?cess, which is an ambassador for the sport of rodeo. Her duties included riding in the parade and taking part in the grand entry. This year, the saddle club has a princess and a queen. This past May as Miss Rodeo Kansas, Pomeroy did a clinic for the contestants, saying it was fun to be in the leader role of something in which she once participated.
Pomeroy continued 4-H work at Kansas State University, where she resided at Alpha of Clovia, a 4-H-supported cooperative living house. She attended KSU for three years and then studied abroad in Australia for one, graduating in May 2014. In 2012, she was Miss Rodeo K-State.
In August 2014, the Hesston native competed for the Miss Rodeo Kansas crown at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo. That competition included horsemanship, giving a speech, two interviews (personality and horsemanship) and modeling western attire. There is no prerequisite to enter ? anyone who has an interest in rodeo can compete, and the winner spends a year representing the title.
Pomeroy has done that in a number of ways.
?When I travel to a rodeo, it is whatever that committee needs me to help promote through the best way possible,? she said.
That can include interviews with the media and mingling with the public. Pomeroy also does school visits.
?My goal is to take rodeo and represent rodeo (to the public who) are not related to rodeo and the western way of life. It?s a big responsibility, but at the same time, I enjoy showing kids this western way of life.?
Her plans include competing at Miss Rodeo America in December in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and attending the Miss Rodeo Kansas Pageant when the Harvey County Fair is taking place.
?I will be crowning the new Miss Rodeo Kansas,? she said.
About the fair
The majority of the Harvey County Fair will be from Friday, July 31, through Tuesday, Aug. 4, at the Harvey County Fairgrounds.
Exhibits close at 10 p.m. every night.
By Wendy Nugent
Special to Newton Now