SALINAS VALLEY — Ever since a young child, Rose Escobar dreamed of becoming a Rodeo Queen — a best-in-class combination of horsemanship and athletic abilities paired with personal skills of public speaking and knowledge of the heritage of agriculture.
That dream came true this year as she earned the crown of Miss California Rodeo Salinas 2023.
“Rodeo ‘queening’ has been a passion of mine since very young,” Escobar said. “My sister Rena inspired me when she was crowned Miss Salinas Valley Fair during high school.”
Escobar, now a 20-year-old client associate at Merrill in Monterey, started rodeoing in 2013 when she was 10 years old. But her love for agriculture and riding started much earlier, and she sees advocating for ag and for rodeos “in my future.”
She attributes her win to a lot of dedication put into this sport, but also to horse-on-loan “Chex,” who was provided to her by friend Larae Reid last year — which demonstrates that you don’t need to come from a wealthy background and own horses to rodeo.
Rodeo queening — which showcases care for horses and cattle, showmanship, charisma and more — is clearly something she enjoys. Escobar has earned such titles as Miss Salinas Valley Fair 2019 and Miss Salinas Valley Wine Country 2021-22.
She also loves to volunteer, currently serving as the chair for the King City Stampede, where she helps coordinate queen competitions and helps advocate for Rodeo is Ag, an initiative to promote the agricultural industry.
Growing up in East Salinas, she attended Spreckels Elementary School, Buena Vista Middle School and then Monterey County Home Charter School for independent studies, graduating high school with a 3.7 GPA.
“Being in independent studies gave me the flexibility to ride my horse daily,” she said. “It also allowed me to become more independent and to have a job during Covid.”
Parents Gary and Cheri Escobar both lost their jobs during the pandemic, and Escobar stepped in to help. She found a job helping to breed Labrador retrievers in Prunedale. It was there that she met her mentor, John Elliott.
“I sold him a puppy and then he hired me to train the dog,” she said. “He saw potential in me and my work ethic, so he referred me to a friend who worked at the Merrill office in Monterey and I applied for a job.”
Merrill is one of the most prestigious wealth management firms in America, and its Monterey region offices manage $4.7 billion in local client assets. Maybe it’s no coincidence that Rodeo Queen Escobar gravitated to Merrill, with its legendary logo being the bull and its team known as the “Thundering Herd.”
“Rose’s passion for the sport of rodeo as well as helping her community has merged perfectly with her Rodeo Queen and Merrill careers,” said Morgane McNally, resident director at Merrill Monterey. “Being Miss California Rodeo Salinas gives Rose the opportunity to promote the sport of rodeo as well as build relationships, and her passion for the community, for heritage and of empowerment shines through when engaging with her wealth management clients.”
Escobar has worked at Merrill Monterey for two years. She aspires to earn her credentials and become a registered adviser in the near future.
Going from the stables to the corporate culture came easily for her.
“I am a very big people person and I enjoy having that connection with clients,” she said. “To help people send their kids to college or to fulfill whatever goal they have, to me, is like helping your friends make their dreams come true.”
For the next year, Escobar’s plate will be full of work and representing the California Rodeo Salinas organization in speaking engagements, rodeos around the state, and as an advocate for agriculture. She has the support of her colleagues and feels that following her passion for rodeoing makes her be better at her job and at supporting her team at Merrill.
“Rose Escobar will represent the California Rodeo Salinas well as an ambassador for the sport of rodeo and the Western lifestyle as she travels to various events, parades and rodeos across the state,” said Mandy Linquist, marketing manager for California Rodeo Salinas. “Rose is knowledgeable about rodeo and agriculture, which is vital to the Salinas Valley, and will help us preserve and promote the traditions of the West as we celebrate 114 years of the California Rodeo Salinas.”
Escobar now lives in a cattle ranch in Greenfield, where she is able to ride her horse “Identity Check” daily. She is proud of her Native American, Portuguese and Swiss heritage and plans to continue to advocate for Rodeo is Ag and be a positive influence on youth.