Jenna Whitaker

KAYSVILLE (AP) — Jenna Whitaker is in Las Vegas to represent Utah in the Miss Rodeo America Pageant.

Whitaker, 18, left Friday to compete in the national pageant held in conjunction with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Contestants at the pageant will be judged on personality, appearance, horsemanship and general equine science.

Since winning the state title in July 24, the Kaysville woman has been studying two hours a day with flash cards.

"The more I learn, the more I love it," she said. "You follow all the livestock and everything, and you realize how much really goes into this."

The pageant starts Saturday and runs through Dec. 8.

The primary role of Miss Rodeo America is to promote the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Americas Western heritage, organizers say. Five women from Utah have won the national crown.

Contestants will be tested on their knowledge of rodeo and the rodeo association.

"It really makes the girls have to know a ton," Whitaker said.

She said she packed 20 outfits and sent boots to Iowa to be dyed in bright colors to match her clothes.

"It's like playing dress-up when you are a little girl. Just a little more work goes into it," Whitaker said.