The J.O. Cravens Memorial Scholarship Committee announced its 2023 winners on June 13 and for the first time years the winners were from the same state. The memorial scholarships were established in memory of lifelong rodeo cowboy, founding member and former president of the International Pro Rodeo Association (IPRA) and teacher J.O. Cravens following his death in 2018. Cravens taught the first-ever judges’ clinic in pro rodeo and was at the helm of the IPRA when the association partnered with Shawnee, Oklahoma’s Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center to create the International Finals Youth Rodeo (IFYR).
They are awarded annually to high school graduates with strong ties to rodeo who continue their education at colleges, universities or trade schools. Judging criteria are 40% rodeo involvement; 25% scholarship, leadership and community activities; 20% financial need and 15% essay/personal narrative.
A panel of judges with experience in rodeo and education who personally knew J.O. Cravens determine which applicants receive scholarships.
This year Tate Talkington of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, topped a field of 32 applicants from 12 states to win the $1,000 JO. Cravens Memorial Scholarship.
Talkington finished first in his graduating class of 214 at Scottsbluff High School, finishing summa cum laude with a 4.0 grade point average.
He qualified for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo three years in multiple events, winning the goat tying championship and finishing third in the all-around as an eighth-grader.
Talkington won the Nebraska High School Rodeo tie-down roping title and has competed at the National High School Finals Rodeo in tie-down roping, team roping and reined cow horse.
Tate, the son of two teachers, played basketball on a state tournament team, serving as captain and winning all-conference honors. He was also very active in FFA and helped pay his rodeo expenses by training and selling horses.
He will attend Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado this fall where he will be a member of the rodeo team and major in animal science. He plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in animal science and continue to veterinary school. His career goal is to become a large animal veterinarian.
The J.O. & Mary Cravens Legacy scholarship is awarded periodically to a student who applies for the J.O. Cravens Memorial Scholarship and meets the criteria of rodeo leadership, scholarship and lifestyle.
This year’s recipient is Kassidy Rambat of Taylor, Nebraska, whose family is rooted in rodeo. Her great-grandparents and grandparents were involved in rodeo and passed that passion to her parents. Kassidy was born when her parents were competing in college rodeo and competed for the first time at age three.
A standout in youth and junior high rodeo in Kansas, Kassidy’s life was turned upside down when her father died in the spring of her freshman year. Her mother moved the family to Nebraska to be closer to extended family. and Kassidy attended Hyannis high school for two years before moving to Burwell as a senior.
She still maintained a 3.5 grade point average, lettered in volleyball, basketball, track and rodeo, served as a class officer, participated in FFA and other extracurricular activities and worked a part-time job. She has qualified for her state high school finals rodeo in pole bending,, goat tying and breakaway roping.
Kassidy will attend Fort Hays State University and major in Diagnostic Medical Imaging with an emphasis in Ultrasound and plans a medical career.