Eva Oliver, of Merriman, to be crowned Miss Rodeo Nebraska
CURTIS — A lifelong dream for a Sandhills cowgirl is coming true.
Eva Oliver, a Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture Aggie, receives her crown and official title as Miss Rodeo Nebraska 2019 on Jan. 5 at the Cherry County Fairgrounds in Valentine.
Oliver graduated in May 2018 from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis with an Associate of Science degree in veterinary technology.
While studying at NCTA, Oliver was busy with her vet tech classes but most enjoyed the ranch horse program and opportunities to ride horses.
College highlights were “any class with Jo Bek, playing intramural sports and living on campus, right across the hall from my close friends.”
A month after her graduation in May, during a statewide rodeo queen contest 45 miles north of her college campus, the Aggie alum not only won the horsemanship competition but the overall title to be Miss Rodeo Nebraska Lady-in-Waiting.
The achievement was a young cowgirl’s dream for the daughter of Chuck and Stacie Oliver. She had spent the first two decades of her life on a Nebraska Sandhills ranch south of Merriman.
“I got my first queen title in 2008, as a junior princess at the Sheridan County Fair Rodeo,” says Oliver, recalling a local cheering section at the Gordon rodeo.
She grew up riding horses and enjoying the great outdoors east of Gordon in neighboring Cherry County, which boasts more cows than humans in the vast ranching territory of north central Nebraska.
Chuck Oliver taught his daughter the skill of maneuvering teams of draft horses at Shadbolt Cattle Company where he’s managed rangeland and cowherds for 30 years.
While in junior and senior high schools, Oliver was active in athletics at Cody-Kilgore Rural High School. Her summers were spent in the hay fields, working at the ranch, or traveling with friends to rodeos and queen contests.
The princess-turned-queen has represented the sport of rodeo throughout Nebraska, she said, thanks to support from her family, neighbors and good friends like Buck and Joan Buckles of rural Gordon.
“They are like grandparents to me,” she said, adding, “They were very successful and influential in my life.”
Among her teen titles was princess at the Old West Trail Rodeo in Crawford in 2013. Then, in her home territory, she became Miss Rodeo Cherry County.
Later, in 2017, at Nebraska’s Big Rodeo, one of the oldest rodeos in the nation, she became Miss Burwell Rodeo.
That was just before her second year studying veterinary technology at NCTA in Curtis, located in southwestern Nebraska.
Her mother, Stacie Seegebarth, who was originally from the northeastern Nebraska town of Hadar, had also studied veterinary technology at the same school.
Seegebarth graduated in 1986 from the college, which was then known as UNSTA — the University of Nebraska School of Technical Agriculture.
But, before receiving her degree in veterinary technology, she first interned with Dr. Gary Sears at his veterinary practice at Hyannis.
“My mom fell in love with the Sandhills and still works today for Hyannis Veterinary Services,” Oliver said. “So I was familiar with the (NCTA) program because my mother went there.”
In fact, the current chair of the NCTA Veterinary Technology program, Professor Barbara Berg, was on the UNSTA faculty as one of Seegebarth’s instructors as well.
During her sophomore year at NCTA, Oliver received one of the Aggie Alumni Association scholarships because of the legacy alumni connection.
After her Miss Rodeo Nebraska duties are complete, Oliver hopes to take her national exam and become a licensed veterinary technician like her mother.
She enjoyed her NCTA internship in Ogallala and appreciates the area of Nebraska within a few hours’ drive home.
This summer, between events and travels, she helped out at Shadbolt Cattle Company and occasionally for Hyannis Veterinary Services.
Miss Rodeo Nebraska 2019 knows her next year will entail much travel, rodeo and public appearances where she can represent rodeo while encouraging young people to pursue their education and dreams.