(Jennifer Priest Mitchell is a freelance writer in Beaverton. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

A lot of little girls watch beauty pageants on television and dream of one day being a contestant. Most of those pageants have a Hollywood feel to them, and are all glamour. While Trena Loftesness is just as pretty and graceful as any other beauty pageant contestant, this hometown gal has a heart of gold, and her crowning as a pageant winner included a little mud and hay on her boots when she won last year.

As Miss Rodeo Oregon, Loftesness is the proud ambassador to many children and civic associations, educating them about agriculture, horses and farm life, while also sharing the fact that a lot of commitment and hard work went into achieving her current title.

Each year, Miss Rodeo Oregon is chosen during July for the following year.

'I was crowned at the St. Paul Rodeo in July of 2005 for the 2006 term,' Loftesness explained. 'It is a four-day competition, with judges from out of state. The categories for contestants include appearance, knowledge, personality and horsemanship. Oh, and horsemanship was my favorite because I grew up on horses.'

Growing up in Sherwood, Loftesness was able to enjoy the country life and ride horses while balancing that adventurous part of her life with solid schools, a strong community, and all of the culture and dynamics that the greater Portland area has to offer.

'I loved growing up in Sherwood,' she said.

As Miss Rodeo Oregon, her duties include traveling throughout her home state, as well as visits to Washington, South Dakota, Colorado, and Idaho, where she is an ambassador for the Oregon rodeos.

'I go to a lot of elementary schools and community events,' she said. 'I attract attention to rodeos. It is a lot of fun because I am always all dressed up with my hat, crown, and banner. I explain events and answer questions. I can show a short movie and explain why it is fun to go to the rodeo.'

As the 40th young woman to hold her title, Loftesness takes great pride in the fact that she will represent her state at the Miss Rodeo America competition in Las Vegas this fall.

Now in her senior year at Oregon State University, Loftesness is majoring in human development and family science, and her minors are communications and equine science. While she does not know exactly what she wants to do after graduation, she smiled and said, 'I definitely want to stay in the equine industry.'

Though she has traveled all over the country, growing up in a rodeo family, Loftesness said she delights in sharing her love of Oregon. Now living in Tigard, she said, 'I love hiking and mountain biking, so this is a great place for me! I love to paint, and scrapbook, and spend time with my family and friends.

'I am also an avid skier and a beginning snowboarder, so between loving the snow and loving the beach, I am all set. I can hop on I-5 and get where I want to be,' she said. 'And you can't beat Oregon in the summer … there is no place I'd rather be!'

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