The inaugural BV Land High School Rodeo Scholarship was handed out on Sunday to one deserving Grade 12 student from Northeastern B.C.
Lance Isaak of Dawson Creek beat out two other finalists for the scholarship and was handed the $2,000 academic honour during the regional high school rodeo in Hudson’s Hope on Sunday.
“I was really excited,” Isaak said immediately following the announcement. “I’ve known Brian [Vermeulen] for a little while and one of the guys he sponsors is one of my rodeo coaches, so I’m really honoured.”
The BV Land Rodeo Scholarship was introduced this year to recognize high school students who are members of the B.C. High School Rodeo Circuit specifically from Northeast B.C. who have plans to attend a post-secondary institution. Applicants must also have a minimum grade point average of 3.5 and submit a 750-word essay.
Brian Vermeulen, who introduced the scholarship with his company BV Land, was happy to present the honour to Isaak.
“Lance had the grades,” Vermeulen said from the Hudson’s Hope Rodeo Grounds on Sunday. “With the essay it came down to acknowledging everything. You’re recognizing not only your fellow competitors, but you’re also a part of a team, so to see the level of team work between you and your horse, that was very much demonstrated in Lance’s essay.”
“It was very creative, very well written and very explanatory on all facets, like of volunteering, of horsemanship, supporting your competitors and helping out wherever,” he added. “It was very well done.”
Vermeulen created the scholarship to give Northeastern B.C. high school students a head start in college or university.
“This is where we put the money towards the up-and-coming students,” he explained. “It gives more of an incentive than just paying entry fees. There’s something for their future to look at outside of high school rodeo to go to the next step. To promote that is the best way to go, so that was one of the main reasons for putting the scholarship together.”
“It gives us a chance to support the new kids coming up through the program.”
Vermeulen has been supporting high school rodeo for the past three or four years, but this is his first year being involved in the program. A lot of the participants in the rodeo are sons and daughters of people he knows who live in Fort St. John, and he wanted to help support and promote them in a different way this year.
The scholarship’s first winner, Isaak, has post-secondary aspirations of joining fellow rodeo enthusiast and BV Land Rodeo Scholarship finalist Gaylene Babcock in Arizona. He wants to take a business administrative course and see what’s out there.
“I’m really honoured to be a part of high school rodeo and the great people in it, and thank you Brian,” Isaak said.
Sunday’s rodeo was the last regional high school rodeo of the year, which was bittersweet for Isaak and his graduating companions.
“This weekend was good. I’m in Grade 12 so this is my last regional rodeo,” he said, then with a broad grin added,
“I’m just soaking it all in.”