By Lindsay Whelchel For 11-year-old Tucker Kelsey of Henryetta, Okla., competing in the Northeast Junior Rodeo Association is a path he was probably always destined […]
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Meet the Members – Dakota and Savannah English
story by Lindsay Welchel
Dakota and Savanna English are growing up on a small acreage in Dewey, Okla. surrounded by their animals and love of rodeo. The siblings jumped full force into the Western lifestyle when they moved to Dewey and entered the Northeast Junior Rodeo Association, explained their mom Amber. Her husband Billy competed in high school and PRCA rodeo and encouraged Dakota and Savanna to give horses and rodeo a try when they were very young. “They just took off from there,” Amber says and adds that Billy was their inspiration.
Now, Savanna, 12, competes in goat tying and barrel racing, and Dakota, 9, who got his start in Mutton Bustin’ has graduated to riding calves.
Amber, who has always worked as a vet tech and in the animal medical field, has passed on a love of creatures and helping others to her children. Savanna in particular wants to grow up to be a doctor or veterinarian. Her favorite subject in school is science.
“They’re both very compassionate, very caring toward other people. Dakota is a typical rough and tumble boy, likes to get into stuff, ride go-carts, the faster it goes the more he likes it. Savanna is very studious, excels in school. She also likes to get out and [is] very compassionate about her farm animals and taking care of them,” Amber says.
The family has a range of critters from chickens, dogs and cats, to horses.
In keeping with his reputation for compassion, Dakota lists the traits of “nice, kind and giving,” as most important to the person he wants to be. He jokes that Savanna might try to boss him around, but he is quick to add that she embodies the best of those nice and caring characteristics herself.
Dakota enjoys being at the rodeo with his friends and riding the calves, but he cites being able to watch his sister ride as one of the best parts.
While this fourth grader has still got plenty of time to decide what he wants to be when he grows up, Dakota has already learned “faith, courage and responsibility,” from his involvement in rodeo.
Savanna too, credits rodeo with teaching her responsibility in caring for her horses and her faith for guiding her through. “God is a big part of my life, and He helps me to rodeo and what I do in my lifestyle,” she says, and adds of her confidence while competing, “God is with me and nothing is impossible through him.” She is in the sixth grade and is in student council and the gifted and talented program. Her favorite part of rodeo is being able to be with her family and traveling.
Savanna also thanks her grandparents John and Sandy for their support.
For Dakota and Savanna, it’s clear the values of rodeo extend beyond the arena into all aspects of their young lives.