By Sandra Zunino
Last Wednesday evening at the QAC 4H Park, four poised and ambitious young women stood before the Queen Anne’s County Farm Bureau vying for the title of 2008 Miss Queen Anne’s County Farm Bureau.
An annual event, the Farm Bureau makes their selection based on the contestant who will best represent the industry of agriculture in Queen Anne’s County. Billie Ricketts, Kelly Moore, Maguerite (Maggie) Pederson and Lauralye Elburn each delivered a speech about their educational and career goals and were asked agriculture-specific questions.
Billie was declared the winner by judges Jack Radebaugh of Radebaugh Green Houses, George Mayo, Director for Maryland Agriculture Education Foundation, and Robin Talley, District Director Delaware FSA. Judges based their decision on the girls’ presentations.
“I’m looking forward to the year,” says Billie. “I think there will be a lot of work, but work that I can handle.” To prepare for the contest, Billie says she spent many hours practicing her speech in front of a mirror.
“This contest is not a beauty contest,” says Jill Cohey, QAC Farm Bureau Women’s Chairperson. “It’s to choose a person to promote QAC agriculture.” Jill has been organizing the event for the past eight years with the help of her husband, Mike Cohey. She started when Mike served as Farm Bureau president.
“These girls must have a range of knowledge, not just what they raise on their farm, but also economics, trade and science,” says Mike. “They all do well. That’s why we don’t have a runner up,” says Mike. “They’re all winners.”
In addition to organizing the contest, the Coheys help prepare the girls for the event and coordinate the activities they participate in as Miss QAC Farm Bureau throughout the year.
Contestants must be between the ages of 16 and 19 as of August 21, and their parents must be QAC Farm Bureau members. The title winner will represent the Farm Bureau at various events at the QAC Fair, parades and Farm Bureau functions throughout the year.
“It was definitely a good experience,” says 2007 winner Lindsay Dodd. “I learned a lot and made many friends.” Lindsay kicked of the evening by delivering the invocation, and gave a speech about her experiences as Miss QAC Farm Bureau.
Billie will also be required to compete for the title of Miss Maryland Agriculture at the Maryland State Fair in Timonium. Should she win that title, she will receive scholarships of $1,000 from Maryland Farm Bureau Women, $1,000 from Maryland Farm Bureau Young Farmers, $8,000 from the state fair, $1,250 from the Maryland Agriculture Fair Board and $1,750 for expenses from the Maryland Agriculture Fair Board for a total of $13,000. Runners up to fourth place also receive scholarship money from $1,125 to $2,000, according to placement.
Each of the contestants received a $100 gift certificate from Queenstown Bank and a $100 savings bond from Centreville National Bank.
In addition to this contest, the Farm Bureau also crowned a Little Miss QAC Farm Bureau. Seven girls of about 8 years old competed. Julia Ann Jackson won the title.
For more information about the contest, call Jill or Mike Cohey at 410-758-4692 or 410-758-7613.