By Anna King, Herald staff writer

Don’t mess with a cowboy. And after Thursday morning, don’t mess with any fourth- or fifth-grader at Mark Twain Elementary School in Pasco.

“Cowboy Up,” Jamie Rauch of Moses Lake told the bunch of excited children. “You need to be strong and you need to be tough.”

Rauch explained how to fight peer pressure, make good choices and have high self-esteem using the traditional cowboy code of honor.”We have choices every day, but you alone are responsible for those choices,” she said.

Rauch is a presenter with the Cowboys & Kids REACh Program, a national organization based in Payson, Arizona. It was the first time the program has come to the Tri-Cities, said school principal Dianna Veleke.

Large pictures of cowboys and cowgirls bull riding, barrel racing and calf roping captured the student’s attention. Then the real fun began.

Rauch asked for volunteers and hands flew up. A slight boy came to the front, grinning over his shoulder at his classmates for support.

After lacing on a leather glove, Jesus Palominos, 10, rode high on two folding chairs rigged with riding equipment.

Those watching laughed, giggled and squirmed on the floor as Jesus – with the help of Rauch – showed how a cowboy would spur, keep his free hand in the air and center his body over the back of a bellowing, bucking bull.

“Just imagine that you are on the back of that 2,000 pound bull and you’re gonna rock and roll and rodeo,” Rauch said.

Karson King, 9, looking on, has never been to a rodeo. But he was enjoying the presentation.

“They’re telling me about cowboys and how they work,” he said. Karson likes cowboys because, “They have a really interesting job.”