Secretary of Agriculture Frank A. DuBois is introducing his Rodeo Scholarship Program designed to provide financial support for rodeo athletes.
"I think rodeo athletes should be eligible for scholarships just like any other athlete, so I did something about it," says DuBois. The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship is available to rodeo athletes who attend New Mexico State University. The program is managed and facilitated through New Mexico Department of Agriculture and the NMSU Foundation.
Secretary DuBois is a strong supporter of rodeo and has participated in competitions for years. In 1990, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), yet nothing stopped him from riding and competing for several years thereafter. DuBois proudly boasts that he won more prizes from rodeo competitions after he was diagnosed. However, he was forced to retire from the sport in 1998.
While it was the end of one chapter for DuBois, it also was the beginning of a new one. He diverted his energy to establishing the first permanent scholarship program for rodeo athletes, at NMSU. The DuBois Rodeo Scholarship program is intended to keep rodeo an integral part of New Mexico. The scholarship's primary role is to make sure NMSU attracts quality rodeo talent.
Historically, the first rodeo in New Mexico was held in Santa Fe, in 1848. In 1949, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association was created making New Mexico one of the 13 states represented in the charter year. For the first time in 112 years, since NMSU opened its doors, a scholarship program specifically for NMSU rodeo athletes is being created. "This is something that has been needed since the beginning of rodeo. We need to have scholarships available for rodeo athletes, if New Mexico is going to compete at the national level," says Betty Sims-Solt, NIRA Rodeo Champion of 1956 and 1957.
Three time World Timed Event Champion, Jimmy Cooper, says, "I think getting more scholarship funds for rodeo athletes is important. There are many young people involved in rodeo that are interested in furthering their education," Cooper adds, "Realistically, a rodeo athlete cannot make a living in the rodeo arena and so a good education is needed to fall back on when their days of competition are over."
Dubois is asking for help in making this scholarship program successful, in providing financial assistance and support for rodeo athletes. For more information on the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship program, a person may contact DuBois, at 505-646-5063, or e-mail inquiries to Rodeo@nmda-bubba.nmsu.edu.