Courtenay DeHoff grew up in rural Kansas, showing Angus cattle and riding in rodeos, but she kept that part of her life hidden when she was searching for a job with television news networks.

“I reached out to agents and managers in the big fancy cities where I wanted to work, and they would watch my demo reel and say, ‘Kid, you’ve got a little bit of talent, but we can’t represent you if you wear those cowgirl boots and cowgirl hat,’” she recalls. “They told me nobody cared about agriculture, and I believed them.”

Fancy Lady Cowgirl Courtenay Dehoff
Photo Credit: Kirstie Marie Photography

Despite setbacks, DeHoff eventually landed gigs with television networks in major markets, including Nashville, New York and Dallas. Her coworkers knew that she grew up in Kansas but didn’t know the extent of her ranching background — or that she was still sneaking off on the weekends to ride horses.

“I wanted so badly to be taken seriously,” she says, and she didn’t think agriculture would help her achieve that at the time.

A Turning Point

In 2017, DeHoff discovered an agriculture story that she believed appealed to mainstream media. She pitched the story to her bosses at the syndicated national morning show she anchored, and the response changed her career.

“My executive producer called it, ‘a little cowgirl problem’ in front of the entire newsroom,” she says, a response with which she disagreed. “It was a turning point for me. Instead, I decided to tell the story on social media where I had almost no following, and thought if one person hears the story, maybe I’ve made a difference.”

The post garnered 1.5 million views within eight hours. It was the affirmation she needed to start telling more agriculture stories.

She began to earn a loyal following and a reputation as an advocate for agriculture but a single social media post — a photo of DeHoff at New York Fashion Week — called her agriculture credibility into question.

“The agriculture community said, ‘You’re not a real cowgirl,’ or, ‘You’re not a farmer or rancher so you’re not qualified to talk about this,’” she says. “They cancelled me.”

The experience led DeHoff to create Fancy Lady Cowgirl, a lifestyle brand that aims to uplift women from all walks of life who embrace the cowgirl spirit. She hopes her followers see a self-described “ag kid” advocating for agriculture while living in big cities and believe that they too can find their place in the industry.

“Whether you want to stay on your family farm or ranch in a small town or want to leave and become the first female president of the United States, you can still be an advocate for agriculture,” she says. “There are no limits.”

 

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The group went to a breakout room in Indianapolis. Carissa Dalquest said, "We barely got out. It was an advanced room. We were not advanced." 

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Stopping in St. Louis on the way home

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Mr. Green, Jayden Patry, Karl Zimmerman, Cory Crowl
Brylea Burnett, Natalie French, Macy Bolen, LaiCee Scott, Carissa Dalquest, Brenda French

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St. Louis from the top of the Arch

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St. Louis

Photos Provided by Carissa Dalquest, Editing by Felicity Smith