Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Blog post written by: Kayla Stauffer, 2019 Pennsylvania Ms Agriculture USA
In 2017, I met Shannon Gallagher-Wingert. Little did I know that meeting with her in Berkey Creamery on Penn State’s campus would lead me to the best journey I’ve ever embarked upon.
From the minute I realized that Roberta, Shannon’s mom, was starting Miss Agriculture USA, I knew that it was something I wanted to be part of for a long time. Growing up in a small town in Lancaster County, I was surrounded by agriculture. While I was surrounded by agriculture, there was still so much I did not know! So, I decided to learn more by joining the National FFA Organization and being involved in agricultural sciences classes in high school.
Rewind to 2015, the year that I graduated from high school. I decided that instead of being a veterinarian, which I had dreamt about since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher and more specifically, I wanted to be an agriculture teacher. The thought of educating my community and the future generation of agriculturalists was something that grew over my 4 years in high school and continued to grow throughout my time at Penn State.
In 2018, I decided that I wanted to be part of something so much bigger than myself. I signed up to be a queen with the Miss Agriculture USA program, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Throughout my time as a queen, I have gotten to meet a lot of other women, girls, and young ladies who are just as passionate about the agriculture industry. But these ladies have not only opened my eyes to the many different aspects of agriculture, but also to what it means to be a sister.
Growing up, I was surrounded by males in all aspects of my life. In the household, it was always me and my mom as the only females. I was the only granddaughter for quite some time and have never experienced what it is like to have a sister.
Miss Agriculture USA has taught me so many things, but most importantly, it has taught me how to be a big sister, and a little sister. Whether we had just met at the Pennsylvania competition, have known one another for years, or just recently met at the Nationals competition at the end of June, I have felt such a strong connection with the other ladies in this organization.
Thanks to Mariah Messink for preparing me for the national competition whether it was by providing me with pep talks, or fixing my hair instead of doing things for yourself. Thank you to Cassidy Kuhl, a queen mom who has been by my side even before I began this journey by being a sister to me and telling me when to snap out of it when I get just a little bit too nervous. Thank you to Olivia Brooks, my parade buddy for letting me know when the cameras were on my right or left, warning me when the rain was coming, and loving on my puppy before the parades. Thank you to Shannon for being the ultimate big sister and listening to me rant and rave about anything that I could possibly think of, to Lisa for being like a second mom to me, and Roberta for being the best mom to all of the queens.
I have always wanted a sister, and Miss Agriculture USA provided me with over 150 new ladies that I get to call my very own sisters.