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South Dakota students get scholarships through rodeo

Chantel Kolb, Belle Fourche, S.D., rounds a barrel at the 20X high school rodeo. She is the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship courtesy of the Black Hills Stock Show Foundation. Photo by Clay Guardipee

Three South Dakota youth have a bit more of their college education paid, thanks to scholarships.

Chance Derner, New Underwood, S.D. and Chantel Kolb, Belle Fourche, S.D., are recipients of $1,000 scholarships courtesy of the Black Hills Stock Show Foundation.

Sidni Ferguson, Dupree, S.D., has been awarded a $500 scholarship through the South Dakota Buckaroos.

All three young people competed at the 20X High School Rodeo held during the Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City.

Derner is a 17-year old who competed in the tie-down roping at the 20X high school rodeo. A senior at New Underwood High School, he loves his school. “It’s small, and I like it.” He knows everybody in his school. “I know every kid from kindergarten through the seniors, their first and last names.”

As a senior, he has the afternoons off to work, and spends them at the feedyard, mixing grain, loading trucks, and sometimes riding along to deliver feed. The job is a good taste for what he plans to do in college: study ag production. “I come here and learn the nutrients, what’s good for your animals and what other people are feeding. I like my job.”

He played high school basketball all four years, was part of the activities council and student council and has been on the A or B Honor Roll all of his high school career.

He hasn’t chosen a college yet, but he’s leaning towards Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo. After earning his associates degree, he might come home, or he might move to the southern part of the U.S. to experience a new part of the country. He will compete on LCCC’s rodeo team.

Derner has qualified for the state high school finals all three years, and his sophomore year, was the S.D. High School Rodeo Association champion heeler. At the National High School Finals that year, he and his partner placed in the top 20 in the first round.

He comes from a long line of rodeo contestants; both his mom’s and dad’s side competed. The sport has taught him a lot, he said, chiefly being disciplined enough to make time to practice. “You have to dedicate time to make yourself better,” he said. “No one else can do that for you.” He’s learned that that principle applies to nearly everything in life. “Whether it’s basketball, rodeo, football, soccer, even getting up in the morning and getting to work, you have to apply yourself.”

At the 20X rodeo, Derner finished in first place in the tie down roping, with a time of 10.87 seconds. He also competes in the team roping.

He is the son of Levi and Angie Derner.

Chantel Kolb competed in the barrel racing at the 20X high school rodeo.

A senior at Belle Fourche High School, she also competes in the breakaway roping, team roping and pole bending.

Her high school classes are online, which allows her to work three mornings a week and rope and train horses.

Kolb works at a tax firm in Belle Fourche scanning and filing papers, and she enjoys it. “I want to be an accountant or a loan officer,” she said, “so it’s good exposure for me to work for someone like that.”

Her other employer is Jerry Golliher, a well-known horseman and roper who helps her with her own horses. She helps him break colts and rides his horses.

Being disciplined about taking online classes is something she is serious about, “especially with school because it’s really important to me.” Rodeo is something she loves. “I’ve been around horses my whole life,” she said. With rodeo, “I like the people I’m around, and I’ve really made a lot of friends. I like being competitive, and the fact that I have my whole life to rodeo. It’s not like it ends after high school or college.”

Kolb feels that rodeo has taught her life lessons. “I’ve learned so much,” she said. Winning isn’t everything. “You’re not defined by a win or a loss, because there is always another rodeo. It teaches me not to focus on my failures, but focus on my success.” That thinking translates to schoolwork as well. “I might get a bad grade on a test, but if I do, I know there are other things I can do” to make up for it.

And mistakes are how you learn. “When I make a mistake, that’s how I better myself. If I didn’t make any mistakes I wouldn’t get better.”

Kolb is unsure of where she will attend college this fall, but she plans on competing collegiately.

She is the daughter of Dave Kolb and Lynn and DeLyssa Stadheim; at the 20X rodeo, she finished in fourth place with a 13.34 second run.

Sidni Ferguson won the S.D. Buckaroos scholarship.

The Dupree cowgirl competed in the goat tying at the 20X rodeo. In high school rodeo, she is also a barrel racer, pole bender and breakaway roper.

A senior at Dupree High School, she plays basketball as a point guard and loves both her sports equally, although “towards the end of basketball, I’m ready for rodeo, and towards the end of rodeo, I’m ready for basketball.” She is on her school’s A Honor Roll, is a member of the National Honor Society, FFA and student council.

One of her favorite classes is Forensics II, which she is taking this year. Students study ballistics, fingerprints, blood spatter, and more, which Ferguson hopes will help her in her future career, which might be as a forensic scientist. She is also considering radiology.

She follows in the footsteps of her mom, Kristi Birkeland, a goat tyer who has won numerous titles in the S.D. Rodeo Association, the Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association, and the Mid-States Rodeo Association.

Ferguson has qualified for the state high school finals the past three years and as a sophomore, was the 2018 S.D. High School pole bending champion.

She is grateful for the scholarship she received. “I’m glad we were able to have the opportunity to get scholarships, to help us for our future.”

She loves rodeo because it’s fun “getting to compete, getting to go different places, and trying to win.”

Rodeo has taught her that practicing and hard work pay off. “I definitely can tell when I’ve been ground tying more,” she said, “that it helps me improve my tying. And if I get to rope more, or rope the dummy, I can tell it improves my roping at rodeos.”

She is the daughter of Jace and Kristi Birkeland and Daryl Ferguson.

In addition to the scholarships given to Derner and Kolb, the BHHS Foundation gave away ten other scholarships, all to students going into ag-related fields. Over $40,000 was awarded this year.

20X rodeo contestants are chosen from the top three in each event, from each region in the state. Competitors are allowed to compete in only one of their events (if they are ranked in the top three in more than one event.) They are asked to fill out an application for the 20X scholarships; the BHHS Foundation chooses the winners.

About 120 participants competed in the 20X rodeo; the rodeo began in 2003.


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