When a tall, brunette woman, decked in turquoise, a crown and sash walks into a room, speaking with confidence and refinement, it’s hard not to wonder who she is and who she represents.
But upon further conversation, you find out she is none other than Miss Rodeo America Taylor McNair and she represents the sport of rodeo.
After a week-long pageant held in Las Vegas in December Taylor, of Learned, earned the 2019 title of Miss Rodeo America. In her role, Taylor serves as the official ambassador for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, as well as the agriculture industry.
“I absolutely love the sport of rodeo,” Taylor said. “I’m so passionate about it. Ever since I can remember, I was always cheering for cowboys and cowgirls on TV or at local rodeos. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association – (the organization) I have the honor of representing this year – is by far the best (organization) in my book for sure. They are the oldest and the largest rodeo sanctioning body in the world.”
Taylor is expected to travel more than 100,000 miles and attend more than 100 rodeos during her year-long reign acting as an educator and liaison between the general public and the people who make up the sport of professional rodeo.
“I want to see rodeo continue for years to come,” Taylor said. “It’s truly made me into the person that I am. I’ve learned so much through the sport and I want to see my kids, their kids, their grandkids, compete in the sport of rodeo, as well.”
Taylor credits her love and interest in horses at a young age for leading down her current life path.
“I grew up on a row crop farm, and for some reason my dad and my mom just had a couple of horses in their pasture. It wasn’t until later in life that I jumped on the rodeo trail and began barrel racing, goat tying, breakaway, and pole bending in high school rodeo.”
Following high school, Taylor moved to Starkville to attend Mississippi State University and pursue a degree in agriculture business with a concentration in policy and law. She competed in barrel racing and goat tying on the rodeo team and as a horsemanship rider on the equestrian team.
“I had an incredible time at Mississippi State because of the faculty and staff in my department,” Taylor said. “They truly made me feel like a part of something so much bigger than myself. Mississippi State was truly a forefront in my life because they allowed me numerous internships and friends and memories that will last forever.”
One of the internships Taylor completed during her undergraduate career was for the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.
“Farm Bureau has done so much for me. I had the opportunity to work with so many incredible people. Through my internship, I learned so much about agriculture and (principles I can apply in) my role as Miss Rodeo America. (My job) is to be an educator, not only about rodeo, but about agriculture. (In my work) with this grassroots organization, I was able to talk to local farmers, as well go to our state capitol and Washington, D.C., to make sure that our farmers and ranchers’ voices were being heard on a national and state level.”
According to Taylor, the skills she learned during her Farm Bureau internship directly translate to her job as Miss Rodeo America, especially the concept of being a family.
“I want to be a friend to everyone (this year),” Taylor said. “(I want people to know) that Miss Rodeo America is here to represent them. Through this I’ve gotten to know so many families on a personal level. We call it a rodeo family and being a part of that is just having more than a family. It’s even better because on the road I don’t get to see my family as much as I would like to, but I get to see my rodeo family. So, embodying our western heritage through just being a family and showcasing that to others (is what I would like to accomplish this year).”
Despite her passion for educating the public on the sport of rodeo and agriculture, when Taylor began competing in rodeo pageants in 2011 becoming Miss Rodeo America was a distant dream.
“There was nothing more I wanted to be than Junior Miss Dixie National, and on my second try I won in 2012,” she said. “Then I went on to be Teen Miss Rodeo of the Mid-South, Miss Rodeo of the Mid-South, Miss Crossett PRCA Rodeo, and finally I won Miss Rodeo of Mississippi and got to go to Las Vegas.”
In addition to earning the title of Miss Rodeo America, Taylor received more than $28,000 in scholarships to put toward her future education. She plans to attend the University of Mississippi’s School of Law to pursue a law degree.
“(After that), I would love to go to the University of Arkansas and receive a Masters of Law in agriculture and food law, and just continue (advocating) for Mississippi’s number one industry, agriculture.”