Two pageants crown agricultural queens, advocates
for The Fence Post
Miss Agriculture USA and Miss United States Agriculture, two pageant organizations that started in the eastern states, are gaining interest and participation across the Midwest and western states.
“They are very similar, they both promote agriculture and everything agriculture,” said Beverly Figge, the mother of Kady Figge, the 2021 Kansas Miss Agriculture USA, and Chelsey Figge, the 2021 Kansas Ms. Agriculture USA. The Onaga, Kan., resident said one of her daughters participated first in Miss United States Agriculture, before becoming involved with Miss Agriculture USA.
This year, for the first time, an in-person Miss United States Agriculture pageant was held in Colorado, said Vickie Ingram, Colorado state director for that organization. The pageant was held Aug. 15 in Pueblo, Colo.
Although both organizations are gaining popularity across the United States, not every state has a pageant. In some states, participants go through an application process and are appointed as queens. Sometimes, several states work together to hold one combined state pageant. The winners at both organizations, whether appointed or awarded at an in-person pageant, go on to represent their state at the national competition the following year.
The two pageants have slightly different age requirements. Miss United States Agriculture has multiple divisions, starting with Tiny Miss, age infant to 3 years old, all the way to Ms., Mrs. and Elite divisions, ages 22 to 35. Miss Agriculture USA, on the other hand, starts with the Tiny Division, ages 2 to 3 years old, and goes up to the Ms. and Mrs. divisions, ages 21 to 30 years old, and the Elite Division, 31 years old and up.
MISS UNITED STATES AG
This organization got its start in Alabama in 2014, Ingram said. It has been slowly spreading westward and the goal would be to eventually have a pageant in every state. “We’ve had a lot of girls show interest,” she said.
Ingram got involved with the pageant after her daughter Kelly Sloan was appointed the 2020 Colorado Junior Miss United States Agriculture last year. Her platform was the importance of schools continuing to offer agriculture classes, Ingram said. In Pueblo, where they live, only one high school and middle school offer FFA classes through the National FFA Organization. After she became a queen, Ingram said her daughter participated in various activities, advocating for agriculture. Then, this spring, she went to the 2020 National Miss United States Agriculture pageant. That was a very positive experience for her daughter and she could tell a difference in her afterward. Her daughter is more likely to walk up to new people and introduce herself now. “She made a lot of friends and she gained self confidence,” Ingram said.
The experience was a lot of fun too. “The girls become like a big family,” she said, adding that they call each other “sisters in sash.”
MISS AG USA
The newer of the two organizations, Miss Agriculture USA, started up in 2018, said Ashley Clyncke, who was appointed the 2021 Colorado Ms. Agriculture USA this year and hopes to go to the national competition next year. “Since it is just getting started not many people know about it but I think it’s going to blow up,” she said.
Clynke was born in Sterling, Colo., but moved to Pine Bluff, Wyo., after her family sold their farm in Colorado. She has an associates degree in nursing but currently works at Tim Anderson Farms in Albin, Wyo. “Farming just keeps calling me back,” she said, adding that she’s a fifth-generation farmer. “As soon as I could touch the clutch I was driving a tractor.”
Clynke spoke to The Fence Post while on a tractor and then, later, operating a sprayer, on the farm, which grows crops such as certified wheat seed, barley, oats, hay, millet, corn and more. “This year we’re trying hemp,” she said.
There are two things she loves about being a Colorado Ms. Agriculture USA. The first is meeting new people that love the same kinds of things she does. She also loves being an “AGvokate for Agriculture,” as Miss Agriculture USA puts it at their website. “They’re not in it for the beauty, they are in it for the knowledge of agriculture,” Clyncke said.
Beverly Figge also talked about the importance of advocating for agriculture, at a time when there’s so much negative said about it. As a queen, her daughter Kady was able to help out at the Pottawatomie County Fair, bringing awareness to the connection to ag.
Her other daughter Chelsey teaches agriculture education and is an FFA advisor at Russell High School in Russel, Kan. As part of her duties as queen, she helped out at a pumpkin patch, talking with visitors about other uses for pumpkins, such as livestock feed or canned pumpkin pie, something not all people think about when they pick out a pumpkin for Halloween. “I think it is a very positive experience for my girls and any girl in general,” she said.
Beverly clarified that queens do not have to have grown up on a farm to be part of Miss Agriculture USA. “As long as you are able to advocate for agriculture, you can participate,” she said. ❖
— Jessen is a freelance writer living in Minnesota with her nurse husband and daughter. They recently settled down after more than three years living a travel lifestyle, thanks to her husband’s travel nurse job. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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