News Release: Concordia HS JAG-K Student Hopes to Turn Rodeo Interest into Career

Jesse Voss, a junior at Concordia High School, has found that the training provided by his school’s Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) program can be applied anywhere.

Even on the back of a bucking bull.

Voss, who will enter his third year in JAG-K this fall, is headed to the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo., this weekend. He competes in a variety of riding, roping and shooting events.

“Basically, ever since I could walk, I’ve been on horses,” Voss said. “It just runs in the family.”

A self-described “thrill seeker,” Voss said JAG-K teaches students to face a host of challenges.

“In rodeo, you’ve got to overcome your fears and just do it,” Voss said. “That relates to life. There will always be obstacles you’ve got to overcome. JAG-K helps teach kids how to succeed in life despite the obstacles.”

One of the ways JAG-K prepares students for successful futures is by helping them consider various careers and how to attain them. Voss hopes to take his interest in rodeo as far as possible, including potentially as a career. Beyond the competitors in the arena, there are a wide range of employment opportunities in rodeo, Voss said.

Some of the skills needed to make a career in rodeo also apply generally to success in ranching and agriculture – financial management, care for animals and the upkeep of facilities and tools involved. Voss said that in any those areas, skills emphasized in JAG-K will apply.

“JAG-K teaches how to set goals and accomplish tasks necessary for success,” said Voss, who served as the vice president of his local chapter as a sophomore.

Voss said he has received training in interviewing and public speaking which is already paying dividends in leadership positions in junior rodeo organizations. Additionally, he is gaining skills in other areas while in high school, including working on heating and air conditioning systems, cleaning chimneys and welding.

“JAG-K helps students explore and pursue careers that best suit their interests and abilities by exposing them to professionals and employers in a variety of careers,” said Christina Henderson, Career Specialist of the Concordia JAG-K program. “By inviting these professionals into the classroom, visiting local businesses, and doing community service, students build relationships in their communities and the work force. These relationships open doors for internships and employment.”

JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.

The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 38 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, EagleU, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, the JB and Anne Hodgdon Foundation, John Deere, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Royals Foundation, Kansas Gas Service, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Kohl’s, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of Kaw Valley, United Way of the Plains and Walmart.

To learn more about JAG-K, visit, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.