By: Julia Dondero
Jessica Johnson has called the rolling hills of vineyards and wheat fields of Walla Walla, Washington, home for her whole life and has continued to make an impact in and out of the arena. For the past 13 years, Johnson has continued to have a far-reaching impact on generations of agriculturalists, while also proving to be a competitive force on the back end of team roping.
As a Heeler, Johnson has quickly climbed the leaderboard standings once again, vying for another qualification to the highly anticipated 2024 Women’s Rodeo World Championship. Recently, the Washington State native’s profitable nominations for World Series of Team Roping events have propelled her to sit within the top ten of the WRWC Challenger Heeling standings.
Reflecting on Johnson’s experience at the previous WRWC in Fort Worth, Tex, she expressed she has her sights set on making it back to the historic Cowtown Coliseum. “Competing at the Cowtown Coliseum this past May was an incredible experience. It’s not every day that ropers like myself have the opportunity to compete for so much money and at such a high caliber event.”
When Johnson isn’t in the arena, she can be found in the classroom, shaping the minds of the next generation of agriculturalists as an Agricultural Educator and FFA Advisor at Walla Walla High School. As a proud University of Idaho Agricultural Education and Rodeo Team alumna, Johnson described the impact of teaching in her hometown.
“Teaching Ag is unique and so important. It’s a true family atmosphere and I’m grateful I get to teach life skills students will carry with them throughout their lives. I truly enjoy getting to make a difference in their lives” explained Johnson.
To Johnson, Team Roping has always been a passion that has greatly shaped her life. Balancing a successful career, while also perfecting her craft through working with sports performance coach Donene Taylor and spending countless hours practicing has been no easy feat, but Johnson makes it work.
“It’s important how you choose to spend your time. When I decided to invest in myself I started to see a big difference. Now, the harder I work at it [heeling], the more excited I get to compete on larger stages like the WRWC and WSTR Finale” said Johnson.
Johnson also expressed her gratitude for her strong support system, always cheering her on. Johnson jokes, “I don’t know how my husband can pull the Heel O-Matic around for me forever, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without him.”
The WRWC has also made a vast impact on Heeler’s career, providing her with copious opportunities to compete on large stages. “As a challenger, I am especially grateful for these opportunities. It’s not every day we get this level of exposure. Nominating ropings and having the opportunity to compete alongside greats like Lari Dee Guy has truly been amazing” explained Johnson.