FRUITLAND, Iowa–Though she competed in a pageant for very young children at only 10-months-old, Fruitland’s Emily considers the competition she entered at the Muscatine County Fair at eight-years-old as her introduction to pageants. From there, Emily has participated in numerous pageants across the state, welcoming the opportunity to share her talents with others and earn scholarship money for college. June 11, Emily earned the title of Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen, the highest honor in the state, which will give her the chance to compete at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant in August.
Prior to competing for the Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen title, each contestant selected a social impact initiative to champion. Emily chose to address food insecurity. Through several service projects, she supported the Foodbank of Iowa, raising more than $5,000 for the organization and collecting over 250 pounds of non-perishable food for it to distribute. Her efforts also benefitted local food pantries including the Salvation Army of Muscatine County’s food pantry, the Lighthouse Food Pantry in Fruitland, and the Falcon Locker at her alma mater, Louisa-Muscatine Junior-Senior High School.
For the Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen pageant itself, Emily did an eight minute private interview with the judges. During the competition, Emily demonstrated her skills and style in the fitness, talent, and evening gown phases, and also answered an on stage question. Emily shared she liked the talent portion of the pageant best, as it allowed her to demonstrate her skills in baton twirling, which she first started learning at the age of eight and which she has won numerous awards in, including receiving the title of Junior Beginner Miss Majorette of Iowa in 2019, winning the Valera Ehlers Showtwirl Memorial Award, and placing in the top five at the National Baton Modeling and Twirling Competition.
Though Emily has earned many pageant crowns, including Miss Fruitland, Miss Burlington’s Outstanding Teen in 2019, and Miss Greater Des Moines in 2021, she still felt awed that she will represent Iowa as their Outstanding Teen this year. ” It’s really overwhelming,” she recalled. “It really didn’t sink in that I’m going to compete at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen until a few days later.”
By competing in pageants, Emily has earned a significant amount of scholarship money, which she values, since she will begin her college education at Western Illinois University this fall. Emily plans to study social work with a focus on criminal justice, as she has had a lifelong interest in helping people. Emily will also continue her baton twirling career at the school her longtime baton coach attended. As she put it, “It was the best of both worlds, because I get to twirl and it’s not too far from home.”
As Emily prepares for the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant in August by continuing her efforts to end food insecurity and rehearsing her baton twirling routine, she looks forward to not only having another chance to demonstrate her skills and earn additional scholarship money, but to form new friendships too, as she has found pageants, have not only, ” helped me fund my college education, it’s helped me make friends.”