Alpine girl ready to tackle the world |

Alpine girl ready to tackle the world

by Lisa Gavon
R-C Alpine Bureau
McKinna Jackson —flag carrier at the Reno Rodeo
Special to The R-C

The minute an emergency call would come over the scanner, McKinna would hop on her bike and race down to the edge of the intersection. She waited there so she could wave at her mother, a Markleeville volunteer firefighter and EMT, as she drove the engine with sirens blaring to rescue those in need.

McKinna Jackson was only 10 years old when two of her most important passions became very clear. Inspired by her mother who thrives in a male-dominated profession, she has set her sights on becoming a firefighter and paramedic. Graduating from Douglas High School this June, McKinna is poised to step out into the world to achieve her goals and dreams.

On her days off from being a paramedic, she plans to train to be a ferrier. She has always been around horses, and at age 14 took a job at the Deli in Markleeville, saving every cent she made to buy her quarter horse Levi.

She was even younger when she saw the flag carriers at the Reno Rodeo and made the decision that “I’m going to do that one day.” She got her own flag, practiced with it everyday, filled out the application online, and then went to tryouts. This year will be her third at the Rodeo. When she puts her mind to something: it happens. Levi was her horse the first two years, but this year her paint horse Dally will be with her. She works with her horses 3 hours a day, five days a week.

Her Grandmother Maria says of McKinna: “She is a true joy! She tackles her goals and succeeds one hundred percent.” She is currently assistant manager at Alps Haus Cafe in downtown Markleeville, having worked there for over two and a half years. She carries herself with a true calmness, radiating competence while serving delicious food with a true connection to the people who live or visit this mountain hamlet.

Born in Carson City, she was 4 years old when her family built their house in Markleeville. Her childhood was shaped by our small community. It is a different atmosphere living without that many people around you. There are only a small number of children in each grade level in the area so for the most part she was around adults.

She spent most of her time outside sitting by the creek or going down to the swimming hole. McKinna always felt safe since she knew every single person who lived here. Her only fear was of wild animals like mountain lions and bobcats. This made her a keen observer, soaking in everything around her without missing a single detail.

She attended kindergarten through eighth grade at Diamond Valley School. She felt it offered a lot more one on one time between students and instructors because of the small class size. She had a strong connection with her teachers and felt she could talk with them about anything. She liked all the extra skiing and outdoor time that are found naturally in a rural mountain town.

McKinna says that growing up in Alpine makes you mature faster. “You have to: you can’t switch to being friends with a different group if you aren’t able to work things out. Everyone watches over you, and it makes you understand your responsibilities in your own community and in the world much sooner.”

It also takes a lot of extra organizational skills and dedication to live on the outskirts of civilization. There are longer travel times to get to just about everything, and if you forget your homework (for example), there is no easy way to go back and get it.

Since she always had the same classmates throughout elementary school, Douglas was very different and somewhat overwhelming when she first started. Once there, she really applied herself and focused on doing her very best. McKinna said she knew she would have to work really hard, and that is reflected in her 4.0 grade point average.

As president of Jobs for America’s Graduates, McKinna was chosen to represent the organization in Washington DC. The club helps to prepare students for life after high school, where the challenges are many. This is another way of helping people, and that is what truly motivates her.

Her spiritual beliefs are her guiding light, but it is her family that is the most important thing in the world to her. Her highest priority is her loyalty and dedication to her father, mother, grandparents, and brothers. Her oldest brother Mason is a firefighter EMT and brother Cole is a volunteer for Markleeville. McKinna has always participated in the fire department trainings.

In addition to horses, McKinna has two dogs, and helps her grandparents with their sheep and cows. She is a true country girl who looks forward every year to the Rodeo and Night in the Country Music Festival in Yeringoton. She likes weightlifting at the gym, and one of her favorite classes is welding.

With her gorgeous red hair, McKinna is a true Pre-Raphelite beauty. What is even better and makes our Alpine County community so very proud of her, is that her beauty is both inside and out. With people like McKinna who have a deep desire to protect, help, and do good for others, we have no need to fret about the future.