South Dakota National Guard member named Miss Rodeo USA Published Feb. 7, 2012 By Senior Master Sgt. Nancy Ausland 114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - -- Staff Sgt. Trisha Smeenk, 114th Public Affairs, was selected as Miss Rodeo USA for 2012 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Jan. 15, 2012. She received the crown in conjunction with the International Finals Rodeo held there. Sgt. Smeenk is the first South Dakotan, and first National Guard airman, to receive the honor as the 49th official ambassador for the International Professional Rodeo Association. She will travel throughout the United States and Canada during her reign representing the Miss Rodeo USA organization and the International Professional Rodeo Association. "It has been my dream since I was a little girl growing up on a ranch in western South Dakota. I have been fascinated with rodeo since I was born." Smeenk said."Continuing a family legacy, I competed in my first rodeo at age 5 and the rest is history! I find myself now, 24 years old and still as much in love with the sport of rodeo as I have ever been." Sgt. Smeenk has served in the South Dakota Air National Guard for seven years and is currently a journalist in the 114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office. A graduate student, she will now take time off from her studies at South Dakota State University where she is pursuing her master's degree in Counseling and Human Resource Development. "It is a goal of mine to accomplish a master's degree, but I can't imagine a better reason to put that dream on hold. I will be living out another dream of mine in the meantime." Smeenk said. Sgt. Smeenk has a long history of riding and rodeo. She grew up on the back of a horse where she competed in 4-H, Little Britches and high school rodeos. She spent four years as a western rider for South Dakota State University's Equestrian Team. The oldest of three children, Trisha gives credit to her family for her recent success. "I am lucky to have such an amazing family who always supports and encourages me. I am excited for this opportunity to meet and educate people, experience the industry I love while traveling to as many places as possible and I couldn't do it without my family," said Smeenk. Smeenk will travel the country for one year as the reigning Miss Rodeo USA. In addition to rodeos, she will visit several schools and events along the way while promoting the International Professional Rodeo Association.