Miss Rexburg 2013

Last weekend I drove back to Idaho for the Miss Rexburg pageant. Our current Miss Magic Valley, Kalie Wright, joined with me Saturday afternoon to head up to Rexburg. We arrived the AmericInn to get to know a few of the Miss Rexburg contestants before and after their judges interviews. It was so much fun to catch up with Miss Rexburg 2012-2013 Jessica Bracey and Miss Upper Valley 2012-2013 Makenda Bickmore. It feels like almost no time has passed since we were all competing together at Miss Idaho last June.

After interviews, Kalie and I grabbed some food and took a trip to Walmart to pick up some fake eyelashes for the stage…. It never fails! I always forget something whenever I travel!! After our quick break, we made our way to the Rexburg Tabernacle to get ready for the show. I steamed some dresses, ran through my piano piece a few times, and even had a chance to speak to all the contestants before they started the show. When I look back at my past pageant experiences, the best ones were not necessarily just times when I won the crown, but the times that I was able to just enjoy, have fun, and be myself! I think all of the girls that competed in Miss Rexburg Saturday night were able to do just that – they looked so natural onstage and blew the audience away! J

A huge congratulations is in order for Jennah Coray and Lauren Parkhurst, our new Miss Rexburg 2013 and Miss Upper Valley 2013!!! I can’t wait to see these beautiful girls again in two weeks at our Miss Idaho Orientation! 1st Runner Up Tierney Warren and 2nd Runner Up Jordan Hill did a fabulous job as well, and I hope and pray that these ladies will continue to share their talents and compete. The whole group of ladies at Miss Rexburg just had incredible potential! Lori Price surely knows what she is doing when she prepares her girls.

Before wrapping up this post, I want everyone to know what amazing titleholders Jessica Bracey and Makenda Bickmore have been this year. Not only were they a blast to spend the week with at Miss Idaho, but they have continued to represent Rexburg and the Upper Valley with dignity. Here is a link to the Miss Rexburg’s Facebook Page and blog. You’ll definitely want to check out Jessica’s Farewell video! It is AWESOME!!

As Miss Idaho preparing for Miss America in January, I definitely had my fair share of discouraging days, and these ladies were always so supportive by sending me facebook messages and texts exactly when I needed them. I feel SO blessed to have become friends with Jessica and Makenda through the Miss Idaho Organization, and I hope all of the girls that will be competing for Miss Idaho 2013 in July will value this great opportunity to make some incredible friends.

Talk to you all next week!

Whitney Wood
Miss Idaho 2012

Kalie and I met up with Jessica and Makenda at the AmericINN for interviews on Saturday afternoon. 
We had so much fun catching up and laughing together!

With the Miss Idaho Falls crew! Here we have Miss Idaho Falls 2012-2013 Kaitlyn Anderson, our new Miss Snake River Valley Aubry Campbell, and Miss Idaho Falls' Outstanding Teen Mikaela Beck, who will be competing at the Teen competition at the end of this month! Welcome Aubry and best of luck Mikaela! :) And above us we have Heidi Brendle, the fabulous Miss Idaho Falls director, and her cute daughter Kaidence. I have so much love for all everyone in this picture!!! We have definitely made some irreplaceable memories!

Miss Idaho sisters forever! Here we have Kristina Nye, 1st RU at Miss Idaho 2012, Miss Rexburg 2012 Jessica Bracey, Miss Upper Valley 2012 Makenda Bickmore, (me), Miss Upper Valley 2013 Lauren Parkhurst, and Miss Magic Valley 2012-2013 Kalie Wright. Makenda and I would make for a lovely Christmas card... haha ;)

Jennah Coray is our brand new Miss Rexburg 2013!! Here she is with her "Dazzling Diamonds!"

Kristina Nye, our former Miss Snake River Valley and 1st Runner Up at Miss Idaho is
responsible for recruiting her roomie, our new Miss Upper Valley, Lauren Parkhurst!!!

My road trip buddy Miss Magic Valley and I after the pageant! Love ya Kalie! <3

I have never seen Jessica without a smile on her face!! Her platform is Pay it Forward,
which she has done a fabulous job promoting throughout the year.

How cute is Makenda!? I LOVE this picture of her with her crown!
Our Miss Upper Valley 2012-2013 ROCKS!

New Surroundings

It has been a fun yet crazy week for Miss Idaho! Last Monday, I had the opportunity to speak at an anti-bullying assembly in St. Anthony at South Fremont Junior High. A fellow contestant and friend from Miss Idaho 2011, Makenzie Stevens, recruited me to help out, since her older sister Mikaela was spear-heading the event. For a senior project, Mikaela, along with the BYU-Idaho public relations students decided to plan this assembly and a whole week of activities focused on anti-bullying for the students at South Fremont.

When Mikaela first asked me to speak and share my own experiences with bullying, I thought, “What in the world am I going to say?” I never had anyone physically push me over or threaten to beat me up. But then I realized that the majority of bullying cases are not physical, but social and emotional. When I was in 6th grade, I not only had braces, but a contraption similar to headgear to fix my jaw. It was called the Herbst appliance, and it irritated my mouth so badly that I had huge sores in my cheeks and my face swelled like a balloon. All of the sixth grade boys in my class called me names like “squirrel face” and “chubby chipmunk cheeks.” As I look back on it now, it’s funny, but when you’re an insecure 6th grade girl, those things can really hurt! After remembering that experience, I actually thought of quite a few other cases where I was bullied in Junior High and High School. Whether it was the mean girls that put me down with their rude sarcasm, stole my things and turned other friends against me with their rumors, or the emotionally abusive boyfriend that said I was no good without him, I was bullied. Thank goodness I have always had such supportive parents and family to lift me up and help me through those experiences.

Speaking at South Fremont reminded me how regularly bullying occurs, especially in schools. To all those who have felt bullied, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, remove yourself from the situation if possible, or ask for help. Surround yourself with others who will lift you up and empower you. Most importantly, don’t ever let someone else define you or influence your self-confidence. God created each of us to be unique, beautiful individuals. Embrace and love yourself for who you are! J This is also a good reminder to everyone to watch our words and actions, that they are only positive and uplifting to others around us.

After speaking to the Junior High students on Monday, I spoke to a group of 4th graders at Sunnyside Elementary in Idaho Falls on Tuesday. I played the piano and spoke to the group about goal setting and perseverance, and used stories from my Miss Idaho and Miss America journeys to illustrate how we can overcome any obstacles that may stand in our way. I LOVE those elementary kids! Spending time with them is definitely one of the sweetest parts of this job. There was a little boy named Alex who kept running over to give me hugs, wanting to pose for more pictures, and even asking for my autograph. I don’t have any pictures to post right now, but I’m hoping to get some of the photos back from the teacher soon! J

Wednesday made for a busy day moving back down to Provo, Utah to start 2nd block classes at Brigham Young University. Man is that scholarship money useful!!!! I am so grateful to the Miss Idaho Falls, Miss Idaho, and Miss America Organizations that work so hard to fundraise scholarship money to empower women like myself to seek higher education. I plan to get my Bachelor’s in Public Relations with a Marketing Minor. Since I’ve been here since Wednesday, I can already see a difference in myself from April 2012 when I was last in school. All of the public speaking, walking into appearances with unfamiliar surroundings, and emotional stamina that I’ve learned as Miss Idaho is definitely translating over; I am much more confident on a college campus and in seeking employment than I was before Miss Idaho. My many trips from Idaho Falls to Boise also makes the shorter drive to Provo seem like a piece of cake. ;) I am excited to jump back into college life and see where my studies take me!

A huge congratulations is order for HannahSarah Davis, 1st Runner Up at Miss Canyon County this weekend, and Kacie Bitzenburg who took home the crown! These ladies are absolutely incredible, and are responsible for adding to the high quality of the Miss Idaho Organization. After competing at nationals, I can conclude that Idaho is home to some of the sweetest, most talented, smart, and down-to-earth women in the nation, and I feel so blessed to have become friends with these ladies like HannahSarah and Kacie.

See you all at Miss Rexburg this Saturday!

Whitney Wood
Miss Idaho 2012

A Weekend in Teton Valley

My big event last week as Miss Idaho was the Teton Valley Curves open house. I showed up in Driggs at 9 am, ready to workout all day long! Cat, owner of Teton Valley Curves, showed me around the circuit to give me a feel the type of workout every lady is getting at Curves. It’s only 30 minutes total, and the hydraulic machines let you control the intensity of your workout based on how quickly you perform each exercise. At 10am, we had our largest RE-solution class of the day with about 15 ladies. I helped the coaches from inside the circuit, motivating each lady to push harder and envision their end goal. After the workout while the ladies were stretching, I shared a few of my experiences working towards the Miss Idaho swimsuit competition last June, and Miss America in January.
 Could you see this girl at Miss America some day!? I can!

 Two of the ladies I met at the 10am RE-solution class; 
It's so fun to see people's reactions when you let them wear the crown and sash!

 This is Amy, one of the coaches at Teton Valley Curves who is bilingual 
and can help even more ladies reach their fitness goals!

Following the 10 o’clock class, I ran some errands, making payments and bank deposits for the fitness club, as well as distributing flyers to people in the parking lot and recruiting them to come to the 2pm or 6pm classes. I was excited wen Cat from Curves hired me for a contract day job to do all the marketing for the open house and Curves club in general. It’s always nice to receive a little compensation for an appearance as well! ;)

On my lunch break, I found a restaurant unique to Driggs just off Main Street called Wrap ‘N Roll. They catered some of the food for the open house throughout the day, and I just couldn’t get enough of it! My Curry Chicken Wrap was heavenly to say the least! If you’re ever passing through Teton Valley, you ought to stop by. After lunch, I spoke to another group of ladies at the 2pm RE-solution class, and then headed off to the high school to speak to the Teton County Distinguished Young Women. The DYW always attracts such nice girls!!! I had a great time visiting with them, and I even ran into some of the students that I met back in October when I visited Teton High School’s choir and band classes. The whole city just has such a homey, laid-back feel. Gotta’ love Idaho!!!!

I returned back to Curves for the 6pm class, where I met Teton Valley Curves’ youngest member named Miriam. Throughout the class she seemed very shy, and she was extremely soft spoken. At the end of the class when I was packing up my stuff to head home, Miriam pulled me aside and asked, “Miss Idaho, if it’s not too much trouble, would you mind coming to dinner with me at my family’s Mexican restaurant?” Talk about heart melting!!! It was such a sweet end to a memorable day in Teton Valley. So Miriam helped me carry the rest of my things out to my car, and we headed down Main Street for Hacienda Cuajimalpa.

 This is Miriam on the left, her mother on the right, and her baby sister with the sash!
 I was also able to meet Miriam's older sister who was our waitress, and her father who runs the place.

At the restaurant, Miriam's little sister had fun being Miss Idaho for an hour!

Miriam told me that her family’s place was the oldest restaurant in town. She opened up even more, letting me into her personal life and future goals. As a girl who loves soccer, she plans to lose 10 pounds in order for her hip injuries to heal faster so that she will be able to play. When she loses those 10 pounds, her family has planned a trip to Disneyland! After we finished our Taco salads, I had the opportunity to meet the rest of Miriam’s family at the restaurant, and of course we all got pictures together. Miriam and the rest of her family proved to be some of the most kind-hearted, generous people I’ve met! Getting to know Miriam over dinner at her family’s restaurant is one of those sweet memories that I can add to the Miss Idaho collection and keep with me for the rest of my life. You can bet I’ll be stopping by Hacienda Cuajimalpa next time I go through Driggs up to Targhee. J

Until Next Week,

Whitney Wood
Miss Idaho 2012

A Week in the Treasure Valley

Last week I spent a couple days in Boise for some volunteer activities for Valentine’s Day. On Wednesday, I spent an hour and a half in the Pediatric Department of St. Luke’s. With it being cold and flu season, many of the children were in isolation, but I was able to visit their rooms and at least wave through the window or from the doorway. I love seeing a little girl’s face light up when she sees the crown! There were a few children on the mend who were not in isolation thankfully. Most of the little girls I visited enjoyed holding my crown and posing for a picture with it on her head. The majority of the little boys, however, were more interested in their game boys than seeing Miss Idaho…so the one little boy who did welcome me in to visit, Javier, made my day! He even got a picture with the crown on HIS head after he let his sister try it on as well.  Although I wasn’t able to keep any of the pictures, all of the children received copies, and I had a great day to include among many sweet memories from this year as Miss Idaho. Our children’s hospital is absolutely wonderful with the friendly staff and accommodations they make for each child. Malia, the playroom coordinator at St. Luke’s, showed me around 4th floor of the hospital where there is not only the children’s playroom, but the teen lounge that was created and inspired by teens. They have an Xbox, Rock Band, board games, music, movies, everything you could think of! No one wants to be stuck in the hospital, but St. Luke’s does a great job of making it a little more enjoyable.

Just after volunteering in the Pediatric Dept. I wish I could've kept the picture I got with the kids!

After my time at St. Luke’s, I drove out to the Robinson’s house, where they so graciously let me stay whenever I am in the Treasure Valley for appearances. It was so fun to catch up with Amy and tell her all about my Miss America experience. She has such a great outlook on life and has always been there to keep me grounded when “pageant-mode” clouds my vision of the grand scheme of life. Increased gratitude for the state of Idaho, my ever-supportive family and friends, the foundation values that make up my character, and the knowledge that my Heavenly Father has a plan for my life are just a few of the treasures that I walked away from Miss America with. After talking to Amy, I went back out to the garage to unload my car and before I knew it, this cute little blonde girl had run from the school bus and was glued to my side! J If anything can make a place feel like home, it’s a hug from sweet Bretta Robinson!

After catching up with my “Boise family” I got back on the road, and headed to Caldwell to grab some dinner with one of my best friends from high school. Morgan showed me around campus at College of Idaho, introduced me to a lot of her friends, and as we were sitting down for dinner, I ran into none other than Katy Lootens, Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Teen 2010. What a phenomenal musician, leader, and individual! Katy and I competed together the year that she won, and it was a blast to follow her year and see how well she represented our state at nationals. She is staying busy with school and continues to be a great role-model for those who recognize her from the MIOT (Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Teen) Organization.

After getting a little dose of college life again and catching up with Morgan, I met my director to talk about Miss Idaho Orientation and plans for the pageant this summer. It was a SWEET experience – literally, since we met at Cheesecake Factory. But before we started talking Miss Idaho stuff, it was so refreshing to just talk about life! After all of the support and training that Tami has given me for Miss America, it was fun to see more into the person she is outside of her role as Miss Idaho’s director. Idaho is truly blessed to have Tami and the other board members who put in so much time, money, and effort because they love this program and they love to see young women empowered.

Thursday (also Valentine’s Day!), I went to the Veteran’s Hospital for VIP Day. I went around with the Hospital Director (my Uncle Dave), and my escort Mike Smith from the Disabled American Veterans organization, to deliver handmade valentines to veterans in the hospital, under hospice care, and in the nursing home. Elementary school children from Caldwell made the valentines, with personal notes thanking each of the service men and women for their dedication to our country. We had a photographer follow us around to each of the rooms so that we could give photos to each veteran as well. But I was not the only person visiting Veterans on Valentine’s Morning. I met Coach Peterson of the BSU Broncos and Governor Butch Otter. It was a great day for service, and a lot of fun to learn from some of the experiences and stories of our Veterans.

With my escort, Mike Smith from the Disabled Veterans Org.
Getting a picture with one of the Veterans on Valentine's Day
Meeting Governor Butch Otter for VIP day at the Veteran's Hospital. Did you know his wife Lori was a Miss Idaho USA?
After visiting with the Veterans, I dropped off about twenty filled handbags to The Valley Crisis Center in Nampa and the City Light Home in Boise. It amazes me how many charitable facilities like these that we have in Southeastern and Western Idaho that provide for families in need. My last stop before heading home was to get my oil changed at Mike’s Boise Clutch and Automotive. They sponsored Miss Idaho this year with four free oil changes – and boy are those oil changes very needed! It was my third time going into Mike’s, and every time I have received great service. If you live in the Boise area, Mike’s is definitely the place to go!
Just dropping off some handbags to the Valley Crisis Center in Nampa

I'm excited to go to Teton Valley Curves tomorrow for the Open House!
Tomorrow I have an exciting day in Teton Valley helping at the Curves for Women Open House. I’ll be directing three fitness classes throughout the day and speaking about my experiences getting ready for the swimsuit competition at Miss Idaho and Miss America...stay tuned!

All my love,

Pancakes, Pageants, And Preparing for the Future

Last week was National Pancake Day! I had a blast going to IHOP in Idaho Falls to help greet all of the customers who came to get free pancakes and support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The proceeds from the Idaho Falls location go specifically to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake. It was fun to see people from all over Southeastern Idaho who came to support such a great cause. I even ran into a student from Teton Valley High School that I visited last October. Many high school students came on their lunch breaks – it made me feel so old that I didn’t recognize many of them from Idaho Falls High School! It feels like yesterday that I was in their shoes.

A group of girls from IF High after enjoying some free pancakes at IHOP.

A group of Shelley High students who were taking an "extended" lunch break. ;)

Just last night, I had the opportunity to speak to the girls competing for Bonneville County’s Distinguished Young Women next month. I was also able to help a few of them individually with their closing statements for their interviews, and I must say that I was blown away by the caliber of girls who are competing this year! WOW! It was a lot of fun to revisit the organization that jump-started and preceded my involvement with the Miss America Organization. The Idaho Falls area is so lucky to have such dedicated volunteers to run scholarship organizations like Distinguished Young Women and Miss Idaho Falls’ Outstanding Teen and Miss Idaho Falls.

Between a few speaking engagements at service clubs like Kiwanis International, elementary school visits, and teaching piano lessons, I have been trying to get my life organized to return to school. I finally have a housing agreement, the best roommate ever, and tuition paid!!!! It is such a sweet feeling to be able to use my scholarship money from Miss Idaho to further my education. I’ll be returning to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah for 2nd block Winter Semester classes, which start February 28th. However, my credit load will be pretty light so that I can return to Idaho Falls and Boise on weekends to do appearances. One of my courses is online through BYU Independent Study, and it will be a blessing to work on that course at my own pace, on my own schedule since I will still be traveling a lot. BYU Independent Study was a fabulous sponsor to have for Miss America this year, and they were a lot of fun to work with.

This week I’ll be in Boise to volunteer at the St. Luke’s Children’s Medical Center Pediatric Department, and for a Valentine’s Day VIP Celebration at the Veteran’s Hospital. And I’m hoping to deliver some handbags along the way. Keep on the lookout for pictures coming soon!

Until next time,
Whitney Wood
Miss Idaho 2012