January 12, 2023
Contestants in the Miss United States Agriculture program compete for scholarships, prizes, and a crown and sash. But there is a larger purpose. Contestants use their platform and personalities to start important conversations about the nation’s most important industry.
The program, established in 2014, encourages girls and women in agriculture to share agriculture’s story as a part of their service.
“The motto is ‘Teach. Inspire. Advocate.’ And that’s exactly what we do,” says Lindsay Jacobs, 2022 Central Maryland Miss United States Agriculture from Gambrills, Md. “We go out into the community and share our stories to show people that ag is not ‘Old MacDonald had a farm in his overalls.’ It encompasses a wide variety of jobs and education levels.”
Jacobs was excited to meet new people from different states through the program and learn about agriculture in different regions. She wanted to get a broader knowledge of agriculture in other states.
“Being able to meet people from Missouri in the grain business, people from Kansas doing research at the university, people from Florida teaching FFA and people from Pennsylvania working for USDA really broadened my own horizons and understanding of all these different industries,” Jacobs says.
Jacobs and other honorees use their sash and crown as a conversation starter at parades, county and state fairs, and other venues. Every conversation is an opportunity to talk about the importance of agriculture. Children are an important audience as honorees read books to youngsters at schools and libraries and visit children’s hospitals.
Arianna Davis, who was recently crowned the 2022 National Future Little Miss United States Agriculture from Beulaville, N.C., explains why people should participate in this pageant. She says it gives them the chance to meet new people and takes them on new adventures. Davis will be at the 2023 pageant to crown her new successor on July 7-8 in Alabama.
How program works
Depending on where they live in the U.S., entrants may be required to participate in either a virtual at-large competition or an in-person state competition. The next stage after these competitions is nationals, where women from all over the country compete for multiple titles.
There are different areas of competition, with some being optional. The required areas are introduction, formal wear and the on-stage question. Interview, photogenic and state fun fashion are optional. However, participants must compete in at least one of the optional areas. The mandatory areas of competition may vary depending on age category.
Most women think of pageants as a showcase of the perfect body and the perfect face. Participants say this pageant is different.
“I’ve always been big and tall, and never thought pageants were in the cards for me,” Jacobs says. “I felt like I had a Sandra Bullock in ‘Miss Congeniality’ experience. I was so clueless about what went into being pageant-ready. But when I got to nationals in Florida, everyone I met was so nice and willing to take me under their wing.”
For more information about the program, visit missunitedstatesagriculture.com.
Monroe is a senior in ag communication at Purdue University.
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