Lana Hiskey

One of the top rodeos in the nation, Champions Challenge Rodeo in Spanish Fork, recognized 18 students in Nebo School District for their success in the Champions Reading Challenge.

The Champions Challenge Rodeo features the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's best contestants competing on the best stock all on one night in Spanish Fork City. Coordinator, Wayne Andersen, and Rodeo Chairman, Steve Money, met with all the local elementary school principals and organized a win/win situation.

The top student readers were invited to a delicious barbeque dinner at the Ponderosa building provided in part by the Rodeo Committee on June 2, 2017. After dinner and introductions, the members of the Champions Challenge Rodeo committee alongside
Mayor Steve Leifson, Fiesta Day Rodeo Queens and Miss Rodeo Utah met with and congratulated the winning students. Tom Feller and Mike Haderty from Justin Boots donated boots, Robert Leiber from Wrangler Jeans presented jeans, and Resistol donated cowboy hats to each student winner. The PRCA Administration as well as PRCA announcer Randy Corley attended the dinner. Other nationally recognized individuals included stock contractors Hank Franzen and Craig Wentz, Barrelman and Clown Kevin Higley, and Bullfighters Joe Butler and Richie Harris.

The Champions Reading Challenge was kicked off in February by members of the Fiesta Days Rodeo committee including Coordinator Wayne Andersen, Special Events Coordinator for Spanish Fork City Nick Hanks, Spanish Fork City officials, rodeo clown Kevin Higley, Fiesta Days Rodeo Queen McKenna Hales, and well-known bull fighter Joe Butler. They visited schools and conducted nine elementary assemblies in just a few days. Students were asked to track their reading minutes during the spring. The students who read the most minutes in each class at each school were then entered in a drawing. These winning students received tickets to the rodeo and were involved in the opening ceremonies.

The partnership all started with one educator issuing a simple challenge to her school to read more western novels. Now, it is a city-wide effort to encourage reading and introduce the rodeo to a younger generation.

In its fourth year, the partnership between Nebo School District and the Spanish Fork Rodeo Committee is as impressive as ever with an amazing 2.3 million minutes or 39,000 hours of reading in nine Nebo elementary schools.

The following students were part of the opening ceremonies at the Champions Challenge Rodeo.
Brockbank Elementary winners Olivia Adams & Ella McClure,
Canyon Elementary winners Isabelle MacArthur & Davis Kirchner,
East Meadows Elementary winners Caleb Gould & Jacob Craig,
Larsen Elementary winners Isabelle Eddington & Eli Hewett,
Park Elementary winners Jared Christensen & Izaak Rivera,
Rees Elementary winners Emmett Ford & Jax Talbot,
Riverview Elementary winners Jayden Oyler & Evan Jones,
Sierra Bonita Elementary winners Ryan Hale & Ryker Dirkmaat,
Spanish Oaks winners Kameela Varela & Cody Drollinger.
The educators honored were Principal Adam Gull and teacher, Heather Nelson.