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Meet the Member Justin Mello
story by Lindsay Welchel
If living up to your name is the job, Justin Mello has it pretty well mastered.
He’s definitely “mellow” and laidback in almost all aspects of his life, whether it’s spending time outdoors on horseback and hunting, or it’s playing miniature golf with his three-year-old daughter Brylee, Justin is at ease and having fun. That’s especially true when it comes to rodeo overall.
“I love everything about rodeo. You get to travel. You meet new people all summer long. You see all your friends all summer. You’re never hardly in the same place, and you pretty much just get to be a kid every weekend and do what most kids dream of,” Justin enthuses.
But fun and games aside, he’s devoted himself to one of the most serious and important of rodeo’s sports, that of bullfighting. And it’s all business for Justin when it comes to protecting the contestants.
Justin spends most of his summers working events in the Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association, as well as other associations and bull riding circuits, but in the spring and fall Justin keeps busy with Little Britches rodeos and high school rodeos where safety is all too important.
“I really like the younger kids, and I like keeping them safe and keeping them having fun so that the future grows for those kids. I think that’s probably the most rewarding part.”
And even at the young age of 28 himself, Justin, who has been fighting bulls since high school, is already seeing the impact of his work and that of the sport of rodeo on those kids. “I’m starting to see some of these younger bull riders that I watched them get on their first few bulls and go on through Little Britches and high school, and now I get to watch them win the PRCA rodeos. I think that’s probably the coolest part of it.”
Justin knows what it’s like to be on the other side as a contestant himself. He competed in bull riding and saddle bronc in high school and college rodeoed at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, but bullfighting was his passion. It’s a job that takes heart most of all.
“You’ve got to want to do it. It’s kind of one of those events where you’ve got to eat and breathe and sleep bullfighting, and that’s the way I’ve gotten to be,” Justin explains.
In his off time, Justin is working to build up his own herd of cattle in Rapid City, S.D. and keeping busy with ranch work. He also works part time as a brand inspector, but he’s never far from a rodeo or jumping in front of a 2,000-pound bull.