2023 01 18 Kayla Walker 900

Jan 18, 2023

Panhandle State Communications

Panhandle State Graduate, Kayla Walker, Was Named Miss Rodeo Illinois

2023 01 18 Kayla Walker 900
Kayla Walker – Photo by Prairie Imaging

After graduating from Panhandle State in 2022 with a Bachelor of Agribusiness and a minor in Animal Science, Kayla Walker returned to Illinois. She decided to pursue the title of Miss Rodeo Illinois.

“I moved back to Illinois to start building a career, and I knew I had to make my younger self proud and achieve this goal of being Miss Rodeo Illinois,” said Walker.

The competition is a multi-day process involving various activities, including orientation, a written test, personal interviews, community events, and a horsemanship competition. The pageant is held annually over Labor Day weekend at the Pioneer City Rodeo in Palestine, Illinois.

On the last day of interviews, Walker had the highest overall score and earned the title of her dreams. “The feeling when they call your name over the speakers as the next Miss Rodeo Illinois is one I will never forget,” she said.

Walker has a strong background in the rodeo and equestrian worlds. While at Panhandle State, Walker was the captain of the Equestrian team, the Panhandle State Spirit Rider, and was crowned Miss Panhandle State in 2021.

University President, Dr. Julie Dinger, stated, “The Aggie Nation is so proud of Ms. Walker and this tremendous accomplishment. I look forward to following her journey this next year; there are big things to come.”

Walker credits several people at Panhandle State, including Kacey and Denton Ward, Hannah Hammack, and Dr. Aboohamidi, for positively impacting her life and helping her achieve her goals. “Attending Panhandle State was one of the best decisions I ever made. My professors were understanding and encouraging. My coaches cared about me as a person and pushed me to do my best in and out of the show ring. I made my closest friends there.”

Head Equestrian Coach Kacey Ward said, “Kayla’s work ethic is like none other. If she sets her mind to something, she will accomplish it. I look forward to supporting Kayla on this new adventure and hauling her favorite horse “Joker” to the close rodeos for her to ride.”

Now that she has been named Miss Rodeo Illinois, Walker has a busy year ahead of her. “I have so many plans for this year,” she said. “I will attend anything from the Cheyenne Frontier Days to elementary school visits. I have the opportunity to ride many different horses, travel across the country, and make many new friends at each stop.”

Walker has big goals for this coming year, and one of them is competing for Miss Rodeo America at the National Finals Rodeo in December 2023.

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