Codi Miller [Photo: Robin Wiseman]
A rodeo performance is kicked off with a flash of beauty making a fast lap on her trusty equine, catching the eye of the audience with her grace and grit. The decorated ladies of rodeo known as rodeo royalty are the most recognized symbol of rodeo, representing the western heritage while keeping the interest of the sport burning strong.
Behind the first glance of dazzling beauty, the rodeo queen brings layers of passion and skill to the position demonstrating strong horsemanship skills, a flare for public speaking, and knowledge of the past and present sport of rodeo. Outside the arena, queens attend public events to promote and educate individuals on rodeo along with sharing their chosen platform to bring awareness.
Codi Miller, from Amidon, North Dakota, has embraced all levels of rodeo royalty from fulfilling her role as a reigning queen to helping cultivate the next generation. Miss Miller leads us down her path of preserving and promoting America’s western heritage.
At a young age, girls are star struck by the beautiful ambassador in the arena known as the rodeo queen. When and who inspired you to follow your dreams of becoming a rodeo queen?
“I always knew I wanted to do something out of the norm, while helping others and challenging myself. I officially knew I wanted to be a rodeo queen when I saw Ashley Andrew’s Miss Rodeo America billboard on Highway 85 near her hometown of Bowman, thinking Amidon ought to have one, too! I became completely consumed with learning everything I needed to know, from public speaking to reining patterns. Luckily, I grew up surrounded by cowgirls and rodeo queens, including my mom, Stacey, who competed for the title of Miss Rodeo North Dakota in 1978. I wanted to make an impact and represent our community like many of the local-area women did.”
The North Dakota history books list your name as the titleholder of the 2010 Miss North Dakota High School Rodeo Queen and Miss Rodeo North Dakota 2014. What were the greatest attributes you walked away with serving in those capacities?
“Oh, man, the list is endless. I believe the biggest attributes I walked away with were selflessness, courage, and confidence. In the beginning of my rodeo queen career, it was about challenging myself, gaining confidence, and proving my worth as a cowgirl. I became the North Dakota High School Rodeo Queen, as well as a back-to-back State Pole Bending Champion, earning the opportunity to compete at the National High School Finals in Gillette, Wyoming.”
“When the time came to compete for Miss Rodeo North Dakota, my “WHY” changed. My niece was diagnosed with leukemia which shifted my “Why” from myself to honoring my loved ones and representing my hometown through spreading positivity to children along my travels. I concluded the Miss Rodeo America Pageant as the top 10 finalist during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. These titles have allowed me to meet and work with many of the greatest horse trainers, PRCA athletes and personnel, accompanied by the inspiring leaders in the western industry. The skills I gained assisted in multiple job opportunities and interviews including a Fortune 100 Global Company, the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the National High School Rodeo Association.”
Currently, you are serving as a National Director of Miss Rodeo America and the North Dakota Junior High & High School Rodeo Association Queen Coordinator. These positions bring a voice to the table to provide guidance for positive change and the ability to share your passion. Please unfold your “Why” and what the lasting impact you hope to leave is?
“In 2016, I became the Junior High Queen Coordinator, taking over the high school position in 2020. Thankfully, from 1988 to 1993, my mom served as the High School Queen Coordinator, providing a wealth of knowledge for me to build on. In 2017, I joined the Miss Rodeo North Dakota Pageant Board, serving as the state’s national director for the last five years. In 2019, I co-founded the Pageant’s Scholarship fund, along with the Sweetheart Program in 2021 to play a role in setting the foundation at a young age and building the scholarship foundation.”
“My goal has been to provide mentorship to our state’s rodeo queens, while providing personal and professional development opportunities. It would be a dream come true to see each fair and rodeo have stands full of little rodeo sweethearts who develop into western professionals who are proud to be past rodeo queens! I also strive to grow and support the organizations that impacted my growth such as high school rodeo; the friendships, the work ethic gained, and the community it created to thrive in.”
Spring is upon us which means aspiring rodeo queens are starting to prepare for the upcoming queen pageants. To the young ladies who are unsure of taking the step, could you roll out the preparation that goes into competing at the pageant?
“If you are a member of high school or junior high rodeo, you are halfway there! If you are interested in being a student director in the association with the opportunity to represent and ride at pro rodeos on top of becoming a role model to aspiring young girls, this contest is for you! The areas of competition include horsemanship, appearance, personality, written test, speech, and modeling. The NHSRA Rulebook lays out a lot of the information for the queen’s contest, however it is my job to help each contestant feel prepared and comfortable! Please reach out with any questions, or to receive more information.”
“After the newly crowned queen exits the arena, her year long journey begins. Lay the groundwork for the upcoming years’ expectations.”
“Many girls and parents are overwhelmed by the thought of costs and travel schedules. It is my goal to have this be a positive, exciting, yet doable experience. As soon as the new queen is crowned, she is asked what her goal might be: to be the next National High School Rodeo Queen, to attend professional rodeos across the state, to make a local impact, or if she wants to just focus on her specific rodeo events – all are great options. There is a list of expectations the NDHSRA and NDJHRD queen follows, including attending all the season’s rodeos and the board meetings. There are no other event requirements for the queen besides competing at the National Queen Contest, only highly recommended/suggested ones!”
Seasons of life bring platforms to the forefront to convey your message. As a former rodeo queen, please conclude the interview by sharing your inspiring platform with us.
“Being a titleholder allows a young woman to have a large audience to share what is important to her. Like others, I took advantage of this to travel across the country speaking to youth groups about my personal platform: Cowgirl Suzie. Cowgirl Suzie explained how hurtful words and actions affect each of us. During speaking engagements, children would participate in mock barrel racing or pretend to be bucking bulls, with the goal of feeling the importance of cheering for others and having others cheer for you. It was meant to guide our youth to find a positive outlet and outlook in life, like rodeo was for me.”
“Currently, my passion and platform is to grow the number of contestants in the rodeo queen pageants, helping bridge the gap between being a queen and a rodeo contestant!”