Columbia Basin Herald –¬†Erin Stuber

Cowboys and cowgirls live a lifestyle which is not simply defined by wearing 10-gallon hats and pointy-toed boots, or even by spending a lot of time working with livestock or on the farm.

For most, as trong value system is a big part of the western lifestyle.

The founders of the Rodea Education and Children program – REACh – saw that strong value system and imagined using it to teach the same concepts to children. The program has gone national in just a few years, bringing REACh assemblies and messages to schools and rodeos across the United States.

Jamie Rauch of Moses Lake helps bring the REACh ideas to the local schools in the Basin. Rauch, who has competed in rodeo events and served on the Miss Rodeo Washington Board, is relatively new to the program. She gives her presentation with the enthusiasm of a newcomer, but with the composure of an experienced public speaker.

Rauch began touring area schools yesterday at Immanuel Lutheran Preschool. The students in LeAnn Duchow’s class, all four and five years old, had been preparing for Rauch to visit for weeks and were all appropriately dressed in handkerchiefs, cowboy hats and chaps.

Rauch began by creating enthusiasm for rodeo itself, explaining bullriding in great detail, before she began to incorporate concepts like “Cowboy Up” and “Make Your Own Path.”

The little cowgirls and cowboys listened attentively to every word Rauch spoke, wide-eyed and energetic.

She took them through imaginary rodeo scenes, dressing Dean, a little blonde cowboy in chaps and an oversized hat, in a protective vest once worn by Moses lake cowboy Wade Leslie. Rauch set Tyra, 5, who was dressed like Jessie the cowgirl from Disney’s Toy Story2, on a saddle and made comparisons between bucked off a horse and thrown around in life.

Keeva Walker, Miss Pro West, and Stephanie Robb, Othello’s Rodeo Queen, were on hand to help the children rope “Buford,” a metal pipe figured in the shape of a very small bull.

Walker and Robb also assisted in a stick-horse contest and signed autographs before leaving.