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Lauren Terry was a toddler when she first rode a horse. She remembers falling off a pony when she was a little girl. Her dad told her to get back in the saddle and keep riding, helping her conquer any potential fear.
It worked, and the rest is history. The senior in Auburn University’s Department of Animal Sciences is now an accomplished barrel racer and western pleasure rider and is coming off a year-long reign as Miss Rodeo USA 2013.
“Rodeo has been part of my life as long as I can remember,” says Terry, whose family owns and operates the Iron Rail Arena in Moulton.
Her experience with horses and riding helped her claim the Miss Rodeo USA title during the International Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City in January 2013. After an intense week-long competition that included horsemanship, interviews and modeling, she was crowned and became the official spokesperson of the International Professional Rodeo Association.
Taking two semesters off from her studies at Auburn, Lauren spent the rest of 2013 traveling the United States, promoting and appearing at various IPRA events. In each location, she spoke to school children and civic groups about her platform, Roundup Respect.
“I chose that as my platform because I feel like, as a society, we lack respect for each other,” says Terry, who enjoyed seeing the fruit of her labors when she interacted with the children after speaking at their schools.
Though she spent her days teaching children, Terry learned quite a bit during her travels as well.
“I learned that people are people, no matter where you go,” she says. “Like the song says, it takes all kinds.”
She also learned about herself.
“I was a planner before, and last year taught me a lot about flying by the seat of my pants,” Terry says. “Sometimes it’s OK if you don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
After her year as Miss Rodeo USA, which included six weeks alone on the road without going home, Terry says she feels confident that she can do anything. She can see herself post-graduation as an Extension agent or perhaps in a sales position with an ag-related business. She is already making headway on the sales path as a Mary Kay consultant.
From falling off her first pony to becoming an Auburn student to traveling the country as Miss Rodeo USA, Terry has learned to work hard and to be dedicated to accomplishing her goals. Into each new venture, she carries a charge from Temple Grandin, world-renowned autistic animal scientist.
“She talks about making real change in the real world, and that is something I try to do every day,” Terry says.