Miss America 2011: Teresa Scanlan, the perfect advocate for agriculture

By MCGA Agvocate Leah Johnson

Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011 held her crown up to me and said, “Style, success, scholarship and service. That’s what the four points on the Miss America crown stand for.” I had no idea what I was getting into when my collegiate Farm Bureau sponsored Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan to come speak at NDSU recently. I’ll be honest, I was intimidated by her perfectly primped style and maybe a little jealous. Never had I watched a Miss America pageant or put any interest in pageants in my entire life. Well needless to say, Teresa had me wishing I was Miss America by the end of her speech.

Teresa grew up in western Nebraska, in a town of 8,000 people. She didn’t grow up on a farm, which really gave me reservations of her credibility, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Being homeschooled with her six siblings, her parents taught her to appreciate agriculture and to know its importance in our society. When she competed in the Miss America pageant, her original platform was for education against eating disorders in teens. After she was crowned Miss America and got out of the agriculturally strong Nebraska state, she found her true platform: agriculture. As she visited school after school she noticed that most youth believed their food truly came from just a grocery store. She realized that not all kids were able to grow up less than a mile from a corn field.

This is why Teresa speaks about the three main things we as farmers, consumers and as a society must take action for agriculture. She explained that the average farmer is 57 years old and in the next several years we will need 100,000 new farmers to continue our agricultural industry. So informing our youth of agriculture’s importance and the future business opportunities there are in agriculture is imperative. Her second point was to educate and inform the public about agriculture. With all the misinformation constantly being distributed, we must disprove the negativity and create a positive attitude associated with agriculture. Her final point is one near and dear to her heart as Teresa plans to go to law school someday and become the President of our wonderful nation: A strong farm policy and presence in our current legislation will protect agriculture and allow us to continue to be independent on our food sources.

These three things seem easy to do but unfortunately it cannot happen over night. Teresa can speak to millions of people and open their eyes to what needs to be done to protect and grow our agricultural industry. But we as farmers, consumers and as a society must take the initiative. Using all the opportunities we have readily available to inform our communities and our country on the future of our nation and the dire need to preserve the rights and future of our sustainability in agriculture is vital.

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