Gary, South Dakota woman connects the world of pageants with her passion.
By Kendra Davis
She sits on the floor to make sure she's at eye-level with the group of children in front of her. Jennifer Mueller is part of the team at the South Dakota Beef Industry Council Ag Day at the Pavilion booth where on this day, she's talking to kids about beef by-products . The 2-day Sioux Falls event will see about 500 kids daily, and these in particular, are completely engaged in Mueller's message. The crown and sash she sports tend to help Mueller capture their attention.
"Little girls will run up to me and ask me if I’m a real princess,” she said. “I like to kneel down and get on their level and have a conversation with them.”
The hardware comes with a title. Mueller is the reining Miss United States Agriculture South Dakota. The South Dakota State University sophomore represents the state in a fairly new agriculture related pageant. The program is a byproduct of the Miss Heart of the USA pageant which kept growing to now involve contestants from 30 states and strives to get families more involved in the community aspect of agriculture.
“We advocate for agriculture in our home states as well as across the nation,” Mueller said.
The national pageant is held in Birmingham, Alabama June 24. Contestants must write essays about agriculture-related topics and issues, as well as compete in a fashion contest in which contestants must create an outfit out of something native to their state. There is also an interview competition, evening wear category, and an agriculture-related photo contest.
“I like meeting girls who share the same interests as I do,” Mueller said. “It’s cool to see ag from all over the nation and how it’s different.”
As a natural advocate for agriculture, Mueller decided she wanted to get involved with the pageant system.
“I’ve been involved in agriculture my entire life,” Mueller said. “The more I looked into it, the more I wanted to get involved.”
Part of Mueller’s official duties call for her to represent different parts of the agriculture industry in her home state. She is working closely with the South Dakota Beef Industry Council on some of their projects like helping spread the word about the SDBIC Fit Friday Challenge, recording some videos for the upcoming May Beef Month campaign, and coming here, to Ag Day at the Pavilion.
“I reached out to a few different organizations,” Mueller said. “The Beef council wanted to help me and I wanted to help them. I also love kids so that was a bonus.”
Day one of this event consisted of kids from area classrooms coming to the booth to learn about beef by-products including paintbrushes, marshmallows and pharmaceuticals. Day two brought more interactive activity--helping kids make a beef spice rub out of coffee, brown sugar, garlic and chili powder.
“It [the rub] smelled really good,” Mueller said. “I was able to have a lot of cool conversations about beef and the benefits it gives us with the kids and their parents.”
Mueller says she realizes the importance of sharing her ag story with even the youngest consumers. She appreciates the opportunity to be able to represent South Dakota agriculture and help spread the word about the industry to both adults and children.
“To you, it’s a conversation, but to them it’s a huge deal,” Mueller said. “That’s really rewarding for me.”
The title-holder also has planned trips into elementary and high school classrooms to help educate more students about agriculture, and organized a toy drive at Christmas which assisted about 75 families in need.
Posted: April 12, 2017