Jacob Elder, '18

NFR World Champion

By Kat Lunn
When Jacob Edler first started competing in rodeos at the age of 14, people would rush to the fence to see what kind of mess he was going to get into.
"The first rodeo that I ever competed in, I fell off my horse and into the bucking chutes; I looked like a complete clown," said Edler. "Anymore, it seems like people are rushing to the fence to see what I'm going to get done in the arena. It's only taken 13 years of my life, but every day is starting to pay off."
No stranger to hard work, Edler is thankful to have grown up on a large farm near State Center, Iowa.
"Living there, you dang sure had to work for your keep. I wouldn't have grown up any other way. It really taught me a lot of responsibility and shows you that hard work reaps rewards."
As someone who easily finds work, Edler credits growing up on a farm, attending Northwestern, and the several farmers who he has worked with for instilling his knowledge of agriculture. In 2018, Edler graduated from Northwestern with a bachelor's degree in agriculture education.
"I'm super blessed that I got the opportunity to come to Northwestern and receive a great education," said Edler.
Elder's support system 
"It's difficult to describe how satisfying it is as an educator to witness the success your students experience, both in the classroom and in their post­ collegiate lives," Dr. Dean Scarbrough, Chair of Northwestern's Agriculture Department, explained.
"Not long before Jacob graduated from Northwestern with his agriculture degree, he stopped by my office one afternoon to talk about some of his future plans," Dr. Scarbrough added. "As you would expect, making it to the National Finals Rodeo was at the top of his list, and he knew exactly what it was going to take to make that dream a reality. To see Jacob's dedication and hard work pay off in such a big way just a couple of years later is really a testament to the grit he has woven into his DNA. All of us in the Agriculture Department were overjoyed for Jacob when he earned the title of World Champion in December 2020."
Along with Dr. Scarbrough, Edler recognizes former agriculture instructors Steve Sneary and Dr. Jim Gilchrist, along with Stockton Graves, his head rodeo coach, for contributing to his success as a Ranger.
Prior to the National Finals Rodeo in December 2020, Graves coached Edler and his teammate Bridger Anderson in the practice pen every day. Graves had qualified for the NFR seven times, so he knew exactly what they needed to do to prepare.
"Graves really changed my attitude and the way I looked at rodeo," Edler said. "Graves is always positive no matter what the situation is. That's the way you've got to be about everything you do in life. If you go into it with a positive attitude, it may not work out the first time, second time, or even the fifth time. If you stay positive, you're eventually going to be a winner and a champion no matter what you do in life. And Graves showed me that."
 Every cowboy takes a fair share of falls. When Edler broke his leg during a college rodeo season, he was forced to go back home to heal. Edler drove a tractor on his family farm to pass the time, which left him plenty of time to reflect on his career in rodeo.
"In hindsight, it was what needed to happen to figure out what I needed to do differently to change my rodeo career," Edler explained. "Every cloud has a silver lining."
NFR World Championship, 2020
Full of pride, out of breath and with a big smile on his face, Edler launched his hat into the air in celebration. Although he had just became a world champion, Edler wanted the world to understand one thing:
"World, I am going to be a dad!"
 Edler and his wife, Mariah, welcomed their daughter, Taylee, in May 2021. During an interview with The Gauge podcast earlier this year, Edler said, "It was actually my dream to announce that I was having a kid as I was getting a gold buckle.
"That really put the cherry on top," Edler had said. "This winning feels great, but I can't imagine what being a dad will be like. I bet it smashes this feeling right here. I'm so excited for my wife and me to bring a life into this world."
Every morning for two weeks following Edier's win, Edler woke up wondering if he was still dreaming.
"I was just super happy, and proud of myself for all that I gave."
As Edler's rodeo career progresses, Ranger Rodeo fans will continue to "rush to the fence" to see what he will accomplish in the arena.


Keep up with the latest news and events from Northwestern