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The Katy Rodeo: A Time-Honored Tradition, with insight from Ashlyn Pena


Since its inception in 1943, the Katy Livestock Show and Rodeo has stood as a venerable symbol of tradition, community, and cowboy culture in the heart of Katy, Texas. This annual event, which includes not only thrilling rodeo competitions but also a vibrant parade, holds a special place in the hearts of Katy residents and beyond. It is a testament to the enduring spirit of the region and the deep-rooted appreciation for its rich history.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Katy Rodeo is the unwavering support it receives from the community. The rodeo committee, comprised of dedicated volunteers, works tirelessly year-round to ensure the success of the event. Their efforts are bolstered by the generous contributions of local businesses, organizations, and individuals who understand the significance of preserving this cherished tradition, and to help with scholarship programs and funding to create programs under the Katy ISD FFA.


(c) Mitchell Loper 2024

Ashlyn Pena, a University of Houston Downtown Junior in the College of Public Service, a UHD Cheerleader, and a Former VP of an FFA Chapter in Katy ISD has insight on what it takes to be a Gator.  Ashlyn is a vibrant student at UHD. Ashlyn shares some of her background involving the FFA, rodeos, legacy, and becoming a Gator. I sat down with Ashlyn, and we jumped right in.


Tell me about your involvement with your FFA chapter in Katy ISD.

“I want to do so many things.  So, I tried out to be either the President or Vice President of our (FFA) chapter, and I ended up getting vice president. It was a really cool experience being able to open a new chapter. We did everything for it. We made a charter, we made bylaws. We also picked how our chapter would be run. And we also got to go to the state convention that summer in Fort Worth to receive our charter from the Texas State President of FFA. “

Photo Courtesy of Ashlyn Pena


In addition to being vice president of your chapter, what livestock did you show?

“I showed lambs at the Katy Rodeo, Houston Rodeo, and the State Fair of Texas, I was a very busy person if you couldn't tell. I also did dairy judging in the springtime, and I did creed speaking in the fall. As my years progressed, I kept showing lambs. I was always that person who would go to Katy, Houston, and the state fair. I would have three lambs at a time in the barn, it was very hectic. I used to call it my herd because they would like to follow me around. It takes a lot of work and a lot of hours. I miss it.”

 Photo Courtesy of Ashlyn Pena

How did you get involved in FFA, livestock shows, rodeo, etc.?

“I grew up going to the rodeo with my family all the time. I grew up in FFA even my mom did FFA in high school and my older sister did as well. So, it's been a big part of my life and I've convinced my cousins to do it too. I think that's a win for FFA at this point. I truly think that FFA taught me responsibility, leadership, and time management. It led me to meet new people and it just was a great community to be a part of.”


What would you say to encourage someone to join FFA?

“FFA is a place where you can really make friends. I have friends that I still talk to this day and the memories we have of the overnight trips, judging different events, traveling, giving back to the community, and the thrill of being in the ring. Having that Judge pick you is just exhilarating. There are such amazing scholarship opportunities that you can get from this as well. There are so many opportunities for you to grow and learn who you want to be. The teachers were encouraging to push you to do better and to work harder. I know there are a bunch of people who have got their degree in ag teaching and are back at Katy ISD. “


What brought you to UHD?

 “I went to SFA originally, it was not my match. I got very homesick. “I'm gonna go to U of H. Like my dad”, they don't have my program, so my mom said, “Well, my alma mater does”, she came to UHD too. I looked into it, and I got in. That was a monumental moment for me because my mom went here. I have my support system behind me. I have my friends here. I have my parents here. Also, my advisor, I will forever praise my advisor and the professors here. (UHD) I love these professors here. The social work professors want you to get your master's, I want to go further. I feel like the support in the community that is here is really what's drawn me in. I am so proud to go here. I love it here.

                Because I got homesick my GPA kind of dropped. So, I had to work hard to bring that back up. I left SFA with a 1.2. and right now at UHD, I have a 4.0. I just got invited to an honor society that the top 35 of my major get into. I think SFA was my challenge. Once I got out of there, it was just uphill for me because I did go to Lone Star to get my GPA up. I applied to UHD in the summer of 2022 and I did not get in just because my GPA was too low. So, I went back to Lonestar did more classes, and started my intro to social work and all that. I got my GPA high enough and I got accepted.”


What would say to someone thinking about going to school at UHD?

                “I feel very welcomed and included.  There is a place for you here too. Whether it’s two years or seven years, it really doesn’t matter. You just need to find an environment that is welcoming with professors who are going to push you, who are going to know who you are, and who are going to want the best for you. Plus, UHD is central to everything. The art around here is just incredible. The nightlife, we are near the theater district, and our school spirit. UHD is just like a big family.”

Photo Courtesy of Ashlyn Pena


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