Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm 25 years old and reside in Lincoln Nebraska, our state capital. I have been working with individuals with developmental disabilities for the past 5 years and absolutely adore it. I enjoy walking my darling miniature poodle, Shinobi, watching anime and documentaries online, spending too much time in the natural grocery stores, volunteer weekly, and love working with young girls who are looking to advance their skills in pageantry, particularly in interview, on stage question, and platform development.
You won the title of Miss Nebraska Earth, what does it feel like to be a beauty queen and wear a crown?
I honestly don't see myself as a "beauty queen". I identify as a spokesmodel and ambassador for Miss Earth and causes near and dear to me. I utilize the credibility and marketing opportunities that pageant organizations open up for me to further expand my volunteer work. My desire is to leave a legacy of responsibility for our youth, animals, special needs individuals, and of course our planet Earth.
What is your typical day as a pageant queen?
Speaking to groups of children is my primary job as a titleholder. I educate on issues facing our planet and how we have the power to be "Earth Heroes" and save our universal home from further damage. We have to protect the planet from the evil "pollution" and be the "solution"! I try and get our younger generation excited about the world they will inherit! I also enjoy working with non-profits to further my knowledge and advocacy. I have helped with multiple national environmental agencies and groups, children's hospitals, elder care facilities, animal rescues, mental health awareness, and many more. When I'm not working in my community I love photoshoots and getting dolled up of course!
How are you gearing yourself up for the environmental programs introduced under Miss Earth pageant?
I have been attending climate change seminars with scientists, joined an environmental group who informs voters about the issues our nation is facing, partnering with local litter clean ups, recycling, speaking to students, and of course planting trees! I also live a plant-based lifestyle meaning I don't consume meat, eggs, or dairy. Animal agriculture is a major contributor of greenhouse gases. I live and breath the Miss Earth's mission and strive everyday to reduce my carbon footprint. I hope in a few years when I own a house to install solar panels and save up for an electric car!
You choose to compete to Miss Earth U.S, why this pageant instead of Miss USA or Miss America?
I started my pageant journey in 2009 when I received a letter that I could be the next Miss Iowa Teen USA. I competed in both the state Miss USA and Miss America programs for years. After I aged out of Miss America I knew I was finally ready for the Miss Earth organization. Thanks to Miss America I had fine tuned my public speaking skills, confronted one of my biggest fears (the talent portion) and learned how to make valuable connections with agencies in Nebraska. Miss USA helped me with stage presence and creating my pageant "image". I also enjoy how fashion forward Miss USA is. So why didn't I join Miss Earth United States sooner if I knew deep down it was the right system for me? Truth is I knew I wasn't ready to win it and bear the weight of wearing the USA sash overseas.
Miss Earth is a month long competition in a foreign country that tests your physical and emotional stamina, seeks someone knowledgeable on environmental issues, commands an audience with phenomenal stage presence, and after 30 days Carousel productions and the judges have a really good idea what you would be like as an ambassador for their program for the next year. If I was going to be Miss Earth United States I knew I needed to be beyond prepared and have all the passion in the world to bring back the Miss Earth crown to the USA. I don't want to live my life with any regrets and knew at 24 I was finally ready to be a national and hopefully an international titleholder. I found my family with Miss Earth and plan to be involved for the rest of my life. I care about the mission and seeing women achieve their dreams.
What inspired you to walk on the course of beauty pageants?
Honestly I just wanted a pretty crown and to be called beautiful in the beginning. I didn't make high school royalty and looked for an outlet that would heal that pain. Trust me don't do what I did! That's NOT the right attitude at all! After following the 2010 Miss Iowa USA/Teen USA winners I started to realize what pageantry could offer a young woman. Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan was really inspirational to me. I finally "got it" and saw the leadership and responsibility that comes when you represent a local, state, national, or international title.
Did you face any moment of disappointment with yourself during the pageant journey, and how did you overcome it?
Not making the top 4 at Miss Earth United States 2016 was hard on me. I won't deny that it hurt to watch the other girls get their crowning moment in a pageant system that I had fallen madly in love with. I worked hard with my community service and recruiting a 2016 Junior and Teen representative for Nebraska in the supporting divisions of the Miss Earth U.S. program. In the end I'm happy I didn't make top 4 last summer. It made me realize that what we see as "rejection" is actually "redirection"! I'm back this year with a deeper understanding and desire to be the best representative the USA has ever seen! I'm also growing the Nebraska Earth Family and have 5 sister queens in my state now!
Who is your ideal beauty queen and how has she helped you to evolve as a beauty queen?
I adore Miss Earth Australia 2015 who went on to become Miss Earth-Air 2015. Dayanna persevered through a lot of hardship to finally represent her country at Miss Earth.
Dayanna Grageda, Miss Earth Air 2015
Her passion for the cause and love for our planet was evident. Her on stage answer about her environmental hero being Steve Irwin really connected with me as well since I grew up watching his documentaries as well. Even though she didn't win the main crown she took her element title seriously. She went above and beyond with her advocacy and continues her passion even without the physical crown on her head to this day. She is a strong speaker and I know she made a strong impression on those she met throughout Australia and abroad. She demonstrated how serious and knowledgeable Miss Earth delegates really are about conservation. It's my hope to someday meet Dayanna and thank her in person for being a queen who has pushed me to fight harder for my dreams.
Thank you so much for having me and allowing me to share my passion for Miss Earth United States! We are the most relevant pageant in the world and I'm ready to see it become a household name in the USA someday!