By Raiza Giorgi
For a 16-year-old girl, Lilly Masopust doesn’t have a typical teenage lifestyle. Being on the ranch, herding cattle with her grandfather and watching Western movies are just a few of her favorite activities.
Each day she is up before the sun, tending to her animals or preparing for rodeos or the Santa Barbara County Fair, where she shows her steer.
Now she is even busier, because she has been chosen to be the 2019 Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation Queen.
“I have been going to Youth Rec events since I can remember, and some of my favorite memories are going to the kick-off event with my family,” she said.
Lilly is the daughter of Ian and Robin (Roberts) Masopust of Los Olivos. She is following the path of her mother, who was the Elks Rodeo Queen in 1995 before Youth Rec split off from the larger Santa Maria Elks campaign to raise money on its own.
“I never pushed her to want to be queen like I did, but we always support the campaign every year and volunteer. When Lilly said she wanted to be queen, I have to admit I was really excited,” her mother said.
“I grew up playing softball and soccer on a lot of the fields Youth Rec has helped build, and I don’t think a lot of kids know the organization that made it happen. I am so happy to be queen to help give back to my community,” Lilly said.
SYV Youth Rec has raised more than $3 million in the past 62 years for local youth programs and facilities and has funded many projects at Santa Ynez High School, fields at local elementary and middle schools, and the volleyball, baseball and soccer fields at Sunny Fields Park, among other accomplishments.
When Ballard School was remodeled, for example, the group put in the basketball courts, ball fields and playground equipment. Youth Rec also contributed to the construction of the new barn at the high school’s farm, supported the auto shop program and completed renovations of the baseball fields and softball fields.
Other projects include helping with the skate park at Hans Christian Andersen Park in Solvang, and playground equipment at Solvang Elementary and Los Olivos Elementary School, among many others.
Lilly is proud of her roots as a sixth-generation resident of Los Olivos. Her great-great-great-grandfather lived there, and her great-great-grandparents farmed and raised cattle. The property they live on has been in their family for several generations, and at one time before Highway 154 cut in front of their property, the Roberts family also owned a restaurant.
“I love that I live in the same house my grandfather and great-grandmother grew up in. Being out on the ranch with my family, raising cattle and riding my horses are just a part of me,” Lilly said.
She has also grown up in 4-H and is now the president of her club, Valley 4-H. She shows her steers and heifers every year at the Santa Barbara County Fair and also takes her steer to jackpot shows to earn money for her cattle herd and rodeo horses.
“I bought my first horse from money I earned in 4-H. It teaches you responsibility and so many great life skills, like money management and such,” Lilly said.
In rodeo she competes in the California High School Rodeo Association District 7 and the Central Coast Classic Association. Lilly rides in barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, break-away roping and more.
She is a sophomore at Dunn School, where she is on the basketball team and the student council.
Youth Rec continues to sponsor youth basketball and summer swim programs, support Arts Outreach youth programs, and maintain the support of local youth teams and tournaments in the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos.
The kick-off event for this year’s fundraising campaign will start at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27, with a cocktail hour followed by a tri-tip dinner and auction at 6 p.m. at the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Center.
For more information on SYV Youth Rec, log onto www.syvyouthrec.org. The full schedule of Lilly’s fundraising activities is listed there, along with information about attending events or donating to her campaign.