Nina's Miss America Milestones

Miss America Milestones

My Miss Idaho experience has had its fair share of obstacles, yet at the same time it has also been filled with many memorable milestones. Some milestones are significant like placing in the Top 5 at Miss Idaho or perfecting my talent piece. Others, like the slow intrinsic evolution marking the person I have now become, are more subtle. These are the milestones that have defined my life. 

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When I started competing in the Miss Idaho Organization my senior year of high school, I was blindly ambitious and only loved what I assumed would make me successful. Now, I see with purpose. This clarity instilled in me over the last four years has made me a kinder friend, a more passionate scholar, a devout servant to my community, and ultimately, a more authentic version of myself.

Each year competing at Miss Idaho, I gained something different. My first year as Miss Nampa, I found confidence. Growing up with eczema, I always hated the skin I was in. Walking on stage in a swimsuit changed everything for me. It forced me to embrace the flaws I tried so hard to conceal as a teen, but most of all, it altered my lifestyle.

I was always a runner, but every mile I ran left me further out of tune with my body. I would use my 6ft height as an excuse for not being able to touch my toes. Now, after three years of stretching and strength-based exercises, I can do the splits. Most of all, my outlook on fitness has evolved. Working out is not punishing your body for what you ate, rather it is celebrating your body for what it can do. My year as Miss Nampa left me healthier, happier, and more confident.

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My second year competing as Miss Treasure Valley was a test of endurance and personal strength. Being an out-of-state college student miles away from home took a toll on my mental health. Yet while faced with uncertainty and anxiety, I found a crutch through the Miss Idaho Organization. In my third year competing as Miss Pocatello, I finally realized being Miss Idaho goes beyond the State competition. Simply put, being a local titleholder prepared me for the job of being Miss Idaho.

Looking back, though being a local titleholder did not prepare me for 4am wake up calls or hours of traveling in a car, it did prepare me to be the kind of person who is excited to wake up before the sun does and spend hours driving to an appearance knowing that I am making an impact. By being a local titleholder or Miss Idaho, I know I may not be able to change the world, but I can change someone’s world just like this organization has changed my own. I no longer look at service as a task I must complete. Rather, it is an opportunity I want to experience, an opportunity to share joy, hope, creativity, and strength.

This entire chapter of my life can be summed up as one incredible life changing experience. I started to compete because I liked winning, and pageants were the jet fuel to my competitive engine. Over time, winning meant more than just receiving awards or recognition for I found true success in the form of self-betterment. Every local competition I entered, every local title I lost, and every friendship I formed at Miss Idaho made me more successful. While I did not “win” every moment in my Miss Idaho experience, I won the battle that matters most: the battle within. Today I can say that I am compassionate, confident, thoughtful, determined, and resilient. Four years ago, I was none of those things. Four years from now, I know I will be all those qualities and more. I know I will be my best self, and I owe it all to the Miss America Organization.

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Potato Harvest

Potatoes. God bless ‘em. I cannot actually remember a time in my life where I did not know what a potato was. Can you? I love potatoes. I was joking with some gals this week that I do not discriminate – spuds, red potatoes, purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, fried, mashed, au gratin…I like them all!

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            As we think of the things that make Idaho great, potatoes can easily top the list. With the perfect soil and climate (and so many other science pieces I’ve recently learned), Idaho is the ideal place to grow potatoes. I had never heard of potato harvest until a fellow titleholder at Miss Idaho this past year told me about it. As I began to represent this great state I realized I absolutely had to be a part of it all this year!

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            On Monday, October 9th I got to visit Reynolds farm in Ashton, Idaho. Melanie and Brett Reynolds were so gracious to let me (a perfect stranger who they just knew was Miss Idaho!) come hangout and witness a day of their two week harvest. When I got there the first thing they took me to was to see the cellars. These are big buildings built partially underground to keep the potatoes fresh and safe until they are sent out. The Reynolds plant seed potatoes or “first generation” potatoes. These are sold to other farmers to be replanted during the next season! The cellars regulate the temperature, humidity and other environmental factors. When they are full they are the size of a football field and filled 18 feet deep – that is a lot of potatoes. I’ve attached a picture below of me standing on the top of one of full cellar piles. It was amazing!

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    After seeing a full cellar, I got to go be a part of loading another one. Big machinery with large belts are used to transport the potatoes from the truck, sort the dirt off of them and then pile them into the cellar. One job I got to be a part of was grabbing out any extra clumps of dirt and “non-potato items” as they passed by before storage. Everyone there working was warm and welcoming – like a big family. Many of the workers come back to help every year and include some local Ashton youth! Even the older two Reynolds kids, Brooke and Tucker, were out helping. I loved that! It made things fun and eventful. Never a dull moment!

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    Next I hopped in the big potato truck and headed to the field with Melanie. The Reynolds grow over 1,300 acres of potatoes, and we were finishing the last 150 acres while I was there. When we arrived at the field Melanie aligned her truck bed with the tractor. The tractor pulled a combine that would scoop 12 rows of potatoes up at once and dump them into the truck. The process is so fast! I rode on the back of the tractor at one point to watch the whole thing. Could you imagine the days before any farm equipment?

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    There were so many pieces to the process. As someone who had never seen it before, I was truly mind blown. Like many experiences as Miss Idaho, it made me love and appreciate this great state even more. The day was filled with wonderful people working hard doing what they love with the people the love. That sure does sound like the dream to me. Thank you to all of our Idaho potato farmers! I am so grateful for the work you do to help Idaho shine. I can’t wait for potato harvest next year!