Mentors Matter & Other Lessons Learned from 2022 Miss Rodeo South Dakota

“The goal for every single one of us on that Miss Rodeo America stage was to have a crown. But beyond that, we each have a story to share, and God has a greater plan for what he wants us to do next," said 2022 Miss Rodeo South Dakota, Adrianne Schaunaman.

By Lura Roti

Reflecting on her year serving as the 2022 Miss Rodeo South Dakota, Adrianne Schaunaman says it was the “ride of a lifetime.”

“If I could do this every single day of my life, I would because I love meeting people, I love traveling and I love representing agriculture, rodeo and South Dakota,” explains 24 year-old Schaunaman.

Named First Runner up and winner of the Public Speaking division of the Miss Rodeo America contest held during the 2022 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Schaunaman begins 2023 and life after Miss Rodeo South Dakota serving as the equestrian coach for her alma mater, Colby Community College, in Colby, Kansas.

“The goal for every single one of us on that Miss Rodeo America stage was to have a crown. But beyond that, we each have a story to share, and God has a greater plan for what he wants us to do next. And I think He wants me to share my platform in this way,” Schaunaman said.

Mentoring Matters is the platform Schaunaman references. Through talks and weekly social media posts, she encouraged the act of mentorship during her year as Miss Rodeo South Dakota.

Schaunaman said she chose to highlight the impact of mentorship because of her personal experience. Schaunaman credits the many opportunities she has had along her journey to the Miss Rodeo America competition as well as her current career to the many mentors in her life including a former Miss Rodeo North Dakota, her mom, Mysty Schaunaman, and collegiate equestrian coach Shanda Maddix.

“I think of my experiences in life, whether that be early years of rodeo queening, showing cattle or giving oral reasons for 4-H livestock judging, and it was because of mentors that I was able to succeed. Mentors help create success,” Schaunaman said.

She is eager to continue the mentoring legacy through her new career as coach of the collegiate equestrian team. “Our team is made of 25 individuals with different backgrounds, all coming together for a collective goal,” she said. “I am eager to connect with and help motivate each team member.”

Collegiate equestrian athletes compete on horses they have never ridden before and are judged on their horsemanship skills. Riding unfamiliar horses is also something Schaunaman did quite a bit of during her year as Miss Rodeo South Dakota. She traveled more than 50,000 miles, riding in many rodeo arenas across South Dakota as well as representing South Dakota in rodeo arenas across the nation.

Her travels across the state also led her to many classrooms and civic organizations where she had the opportunity to advocate for rodeo and agriculture.

“These are my favorite topics,” explained Schaunaman, who grew up on her family’s diverse farm near Aberdeen. Her family raises crops, cattle and Quarter Horses. “I’m, very proud of living in South Dakota where our No. 1 industry is agriculture. And if I am able to educate the general public about something I love, I’m going to do it.”

During her year as Miss Rodeo South Dakota, it was on Schaunaman to manage her own event schedule, make her own travel arrangements and cover expenses. Miss Rodeo South Dakota is expected to organize her own coronation.

“It takes a strong woman for sure because we do everything necessary to get the job done,” said Schaunaman, who again credits many mentors, supporters and sponsors for helping her make the year a success.

“Sponsors are who get us down the road. Like I said, this is the unpaid internship of a lifetime,” Schaunaman said. “Without sponsors and other generous supporters, we could not afford to do what we do.”

South Dakota Farmers Union was among the sponsors helping support Schaunaman’s year of service.