It’s not rodeo season just yet. But on Wednesday, students at the Powell Butte Community Charter School got the chance to “cowboy up” in advance.
The organization Cowboys & Kids brought their “Cowboy Up” presentation to an assembly, speaking on a topic familiar to many students.
“How many of you rodeo? Which events do you do?” presenter Janet Lemmons asked a crowd of young students in the school gym.
A flurry of hands went up.
The presentation began with a look into the ins and outs of rodeos, including the gear a cowboy or cowgirl uses in the arena. Some students got the chance to try out the gear, and one of them sat in a saddle.
“Over 20 years we’ve been coming into schools and sharing the cowboy message with kids,” Lemmons told Central Oregon Daily News on Wednesday. “Everyone is infatuated with the cowboy. The cowboy is just something that everyone wants to be when they’re little.”
But it’s about more than just bucking broncos.
“They (cowboys) have great values as an independent person and doing their own thing,” Lemmons added. “Incorporating this ‘cowboy up’ message with them helps teach kids about making their own path and standing up to all the adversities.”
Throughout the presentation, Lemmons spoke to the kids about standing up to bullies, staying away from bad influences, and being his or her own person.
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She said the Arizona-based organization is proud of the way they keep kids engaged without using technology.
“We have posters rather than something on a big screen with lasers and lights and music and all these things going. We can still keep their attention just with the posters and equipment,” she said.
It was their first time visiting an Oregon school in a long while, she added.
As a school in a ranching community, around 20% of the 220 students are already involved in rodeo.
Leaders from the Crooked River Roundup Foundation, which funded the presentation, hope it gives the other kids a taste of something new.
“The foundation is just newly formed, it’s been a 15-month process. This is actually our first go at putting a program out into the community,” said Steve Holliday, a member of the foundation as well as the chair of the school board. “The hope is to get kids who would’ve never seen it, never been exposed to it, give them a chance to actually get up close and actually see it.”
It aligns with the school’s focus on place-based education, to build a connection to the community’s values discover and important life skills.
“Being respectful most importantly of themselves, in everything they do, that’s so important these days,” Lemmons said. “And to make their own path, and just cowboy up in life.”
Cowboys & Kids will also visit Barnes Butte Elementary, Steins Pillar Elementary, and Crooked River Elementary this week.
“What do we do when times get tough?” Lemmons asked the students at the end of the presentation.
“Cowboy up!” was the enthusiastic reply.