The Renegade Doggin’ & Ropin’. [Flier by Gracie Blaser]

Graduating from high school marks a significant milestone in a young person’s life, but for two ambitious seniors, Kyler Morgan from Legacy High School in Bismarck and Gracie Blaser from Bowman who attends school online, it’s more than just a transition. It’s an opportunity to embark on an entrepreneurial journey and the creation of The Renegade Doggin’ & Ropin’.

Gracie Blaser, who attends the North Dakota Center of Distance Education, found herself no longer involved in FFA but still yearning for a meaningful senior project. “I was advised to get a senior project done, so I wanted to do this,” she explained. Her initial idea revolved around organizing a barrel jackpot, but there are already a number of those. Meanwhile, Kyler Morgan expressed his interest in hosting a bull dogging jackpot for his graduation party. Eventually, the two decided to combine forces, resulting in a unique collaboration.

Gracie Blaser, NDHSRA athlete and graduating senior. [Photo: Isabell Boekelman]

The choice of venue, Baldwin, N.D., was strategic. Gracie, found Baldwin to be centrally located and financially feasible. “Cost of facility and the location were all considered,” she noted. Kyler added, “Baldwin seemed like a great place for it, and my parents (Don and Shanda Morgan) and the community have been so supportive.”

The journey from idea to execution wasn’t without its trials. “The first part of it was really coming up with a name,” Kyler explained. “We are doing something different, call us renegades if you want.” Gracie chimed in and said, “The word renegade came to my mind.”

Their vision was clear: to create a first-class production, raising funds while providing an unforgettable experience. With a goal of $5,000 in mind, their boots hit the pavement securing sponsors. “We didn’t just call up people,” Gracie emphasizes. “We would go to the business personally and talk and have that initial one-on-one.” The business team eventually decided to go ‘all in’ and set the goal to $10,000 in added money.

Kyler reflected on stepping out of his comfort zone, recounting the challenges of securing necessary resources like the cattle and chute help. “I will run you through the stock contracting concept,” he said. “In my head, I went to the people I know for stock first.” However, setbacks led them to unexpected solutions, highlighting the importance of perseverance and networking in the community and rodeo world.

Kyler Morgan, NDHSRA athlete and graduating senior. [Photo: Photography by Emily B]

Gracie’s organizational skills and familial support played a pivotal role in the project’s success. “Cori Hilzendeger, longtime North Dakota Junior High Rodeo Association secretary, helped with entry email confirmations,” she mentioned, while acknowledging her parents, Cori and Kristi Blaser, for their support.

The response to their endeavor was overwhelming. “Within 3 minutes of posting online, we had half our entries,” Gracie said. The support from sponsors, paired with enthusiastic public interest, reinforced their belief in the event’s potential.

For Kyler, growing up in a family business instilled valuable lessons in entrepreneurship. “My dad has taught me a lot,” he shared. “Michael Knodel has taught me a lot.” Kyler is an apprentice for Knodel at Michael K Construction and has learned things from epoxying tables to building houses. It doesn’t hurt that the young cowboy has grown up setting up shop for Branded Envy (his mother’s western boutique) and catering to hunters at Rolling Plains Adventures, all the while doctoring cattle and feeding stock.

Gracie echoed the response, emphasizing the importance of teamwork. Their backgrounds in agriculture, coupled with entrepreneurial spirit, laid the foundation for this upcoming event. Gracie’s experience in the cattle industry provided invaluable insights. The cowgirl is also the creator and head of their marketing materials and has her own photography business called Blaser Focused Images.

It takes a team. [Photo: submitted]

As the event approaches, excitement is in the air. “We are treating this as a professional event; well put together,” Gracie assured DHM. Kyler emphasized the importance of a qualified crew, ensuring smooth operations.

Beyond the financial aspect, the jackpot represents personal growth and achievement. Gracie reflected, “This jackpot is a moment to prove some personal things to myself.” Despite challenges, their perseverance has remained. “This jackpot has also been a little bit of a test,” she acknowledged.

As they prepare to celebrate their graduations, Kyler and Gracie’s entrepreneurial journey serves as an inspiration. Their determination, a shared vision, transformed a senior project into a production. They both plan on attending college out of state with intentions of stepping out of their comfort zones, once again.

The Renegade Doggin’ & Ropin’ isn’t just an event; it’s a symbol of youth interaction and community. It is open for the public to attend and will be filled with music, live competition, concession food, and the spirit of the west.

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