The girl from the city
December 3, 2015
Bring on the big game and the big hair both: Nicki Seckman can handle it.
The new Miss Rodeo Wyoming is the first queen from her part of the state in 40 years, and there's nothing she'd rather do than ride and hunt.
Seckman, 20, of Powell, is an avid outdoorsman with a background in farming. She hopes to blaze a trail for other women from the Big Horn Basin.
"Down in Laramie and Cheyenne, they really bring their A-game," Seckman says. "They have a strong queen program, and that's helped them win the pageant for many years."
“I talk to other queens, and it’s nothing to hear about how somebody got bucked off last weekend. It just comes with the territory.” Nicki Seckman, Miss Rodeo Wyoming
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Seckman competed at the state level as Miss Cody Stampede 2015. The local pageant was the first she ever entered.
She's model pretty, and believes in looking her best because it's part of the job. But when she "scoped" herself hunting elk, she shrugged off a black eye without freaking for the concealer.
On weekdays, Seckman wears her long blond hair straight, dresses neatly with modest flair, helps her brother farm, works in her father's accounting business and rides daily if she can. She studies under the current Miss Rodeo Wyoming who she admires as a "person of character."
Come the weekend, you'll find Seckman with her siblings and parents, a long ways from mirrors and hairspray, close to a mountain stream.
The Big Horns are a favorite, where the Seckmans keep recreational acreage. They fish, hunt, hike, and camp together. They recently started building fence.
Seckman describes herself as down-to-earth but competitive.
"If it comes easily, I don't want it," she says. "Someone's always going to want your job if it's a good one" like rodeo queen. "My attitude is 'Come and take it from me.'"
Being goal-oriented is a family trait.
Seckman's brother started farming at age 14. Today he has 300 acres to look after, and not because he came from an agricultural family. Quite the opposite.
Mom and dad were town folk.
"Our parents taught us if you want to do something, go out and try it," Seckman says. "At a very young age, my brother said he wanted to farm."
Seckman was nine when she chose horses as her passion. She worked evenings cleaning the accounting office, hired herself out as a babysitter, took on any odd job she could find, and saved up for her first horse.
When she wanted to learn how to move cows, she wasn't shy about asking neighbors and even friends of neighbors if she could tag along.
"I just said 'Count me in.'"
Today Seckman rides lots of other peoples' horses – "It's expected, when you show up at a rodeo, you ride whatever horse they give you" – an experience she finds challenging.
"I talk to other queens, and it's nothing to hear about how somebody got bucked off last weekend," she says. "It just comes with the territory."
Being queen is more about public service than anything else, Seckman says. "You do whatever needs to be done at a rodeo. If the stock contractor wants cows moved, you move cows. If they want you to carry a flag, you carry a flag. If they want you out front greeting people, you greet people."
Seckman expects to represent Wyoming at some big rodeos next year in places like Texas and Florida. She is planning her coronation as a fundraiser.
"I hope it will be a lot of fun for everybody. It's been a long time since we've had a coronation in the Big Horn Basin."
The event is planned for Halloween night in Cody, at a location to be determined. Seckman envisions a masquerade banquet, but otherwise keeps it real, knowing there are younger girls out there, ready to copy her choices.
"I hope to be a role model for other young women. A person of character that they can look up to."