A Fort Benton teen was recently named as one winner in a 10,000-dollar scholarship program for a charitable organization associated with the professional bull rider’s association.
Mikell O’Hara from Fort Benton won the middle school division of the 2023 Grit and Grace Leadership Scholarship award, recognizing young women who are courageous leaders in their communities and who honor faith, family, and freedom. Mikell was one of more than 100 girls considered for the award.
Grit and Grace Nation is a charitable organization that partners with the professional bull riders association, focusing on the personal development of young women in agriculture.
Fanchon Stinger is the founder of Grit and Grace, she’s a former news broadcaster and current western sports contributor.
“Our mission through Grit and Grace Nation is to equip our young ladies with courage, to lead with excellence and integrity in everything that they do, while always honoring faith, family, and freedom.”
She says the scholarship program considers young women from all over the nation, held in conjunction with PBR events.
“We invite young ladies through our scholarship contest to submit videos to grit and grace when we are going to be in any respective city that the PBR is visiting and through that, the girls come and get to be honored in front of their hometown crowds, and we are connecting those young ladies at those events and through our grit and grace chapters nationwide.”
In addition to the scholarship itself, Grit and Grace helps connect these young people in agriculture with mentors to help them succeed not only in their personal lives, but also to prepare for their professional careers. The scholarship award also includes the opportunity to job-shadow someone in the winner’s field of passion.
Mikell is the fourth generation on the O’Hara family’s farm and ranch in Chouteau County, and she says for her internship she is hoping to learn more about the cattle industry.
Mikell is involved in FFA, she breeds and shows her own Maine Anjou cattle and makes decisions for her own commercial herd. As a role model in the Grit and Grace program she hopes to inspire other young women to breed and raise their own livestock as well.
She says that one of her favorite parts of the experience so far has been meeting other young women who are also leaders in their communities.
“Getting to be friends with these girls that have the same values as I do is truly special, and an opportunity that I don’t think people should underestimate and miss out on.”
Mikell says she had her doubts when she applied for the scholarship, but now feels proud to represent her values and community.
”At first, I really didn’t believe that I could do such a thing. I didn’t think that I would win the scholarship, and when I did it was an extremely surreal moment that someone from my community could be able to do that, and some other girls from other smaller communities could do that and I’d love to be that inspiration for those girls.”
You can find out more about Grit and Grace nation at thegritandgracenation.org.
Northern Ag Network, PBR