The weather was changing and the temperature was starting to drop that fall evening. As I pulled on my cowgirl boots I felt a sense of nostalgia. I was raised in a small town and rodeos always remind me of home. What I already knew was going to be a great night with my family soon turned into much more than I expected.

We had box seats right next to the arena. A time or two we even had to knock dirt off our shoulders that had been tossed on us from the riders. About a half hour into the rodeo I heard someone calling my name “Ms. Tittle…Ms. Tittle….” I turned and saw him over my shoulder. I recognized that face although it looked much different than I once recalled. As we made eye contact a grin emerged from his much fuller, much healthier face. I immediately jumped up and walked over to him. As I was preparing to shake his hand, he reached around me and hugged me. He then said “Thank you, Ms. Tittle. I am doing so well.” I told him how proud I was of him and returned to my seat with my family. When my niece asked who he was, my response was “one of the probationers I used to supervise. He is doing well and he wanted to thank me.”

When I began my career as a probation officer the most frequent question I was asked was “are you ever afraid of those you supervise?” While this seems like a legitimate question, I later realized that it was asked simply because few people knew what I really did and as a woman in this role, they felt I was vulnerable. Years later as an administrator in the department, I miss being asked this question. The question gave me an opportunity to explain my profession. Few people know that probation officers play a vital role in providing access to treatment for substance abuse, mental health and anger management. They work to keep our community safe by helping to change a culture of people that need guidance with finding a new way of life. Some may wonder why a woman would choose this as her profession. The answer for me is simple. I have been blessed with wonderful people in my life that have invested in me because they believe in me. I did not choose my parents but was given the best I could have ever asked for. I have had people pick me up when I have fallen, hold me up when I was struggling and hold me accountable when I did wrong. Now I have an opportunity to give back.