Aug. 29—GOSHEN — Two sisters have been named in the 2023 Miss Agriculture USA Queens for Indiana.
The sisters took two of the three statewide honors available this year and will compete in the national competition June 15-17 at Dan Gallagher Farms in Mantua, Ohio.
Lauren Hickok, Goshen, was named 2023 Indiana Mrs Agriculture USA, while her younger sister Emily Parcell was named 2023 Indiana Ms. Agriculture USA. The two are graduates of Fairfield Jr./Sr. High School. Amber Henigin, a student at South Putnam High School in Greencastle, was named the 2023 Indiana Teen Miss Agriculture USA.
A family of ag lovers, the sisters' grandparents purchased their family farm over 60 years ago and is now owned by their mother and her two brothers.
"They own the farm, but my two brothers that are older than us, love farming," Parcell explained. "Especially the oldest one, he has the biggest heart for farming and wants to continue the family farm."
A 4-H'er showing hogs and cattle and competing in the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Queen pageant, was no stranger to the idea of competing in the agriculture scene. Emily's agricultural interests include show pigs and floriculture. She was a 10-year Elkhart County 4-H Member.
"I definitely enjoy doing pageants," she said. "I attribute all of my interview skills to pageants because every job I've interviewed for since doing them, I have gotten."
Parcel still lives in Goshen working at Farmer's State Bank in Topeka when she's not attending Samford University in Burlingham, Alabama, majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications.
"It has grown my ability to sell myself, I believe, and be confident in who I am," she said of pageant life. "I'm excited to do that again for ag."
When Hickok suggested the Miss Agriculture USA pagaent, Parcel said she wasn't sure about it but she changed her mind quickly.
"Honesty, it's been the best choice that I could have made," she said. "I enjoy the fact that I'm very knowledgeable about the topic, because ag touches much more than just pigs and chickens and corn. It's also flower; if you're planting flowers, you're taking part in floriculture... and there's people who have farms where they raise fish and tropical plants. It's all those things that go into making ag what it is."
Parcel explained that Miss Ag was a "different beast" than county fairs, especially Elkhart County's.
"It's something that's very low stress," she said. "They just want you to be involved in ag. They want you to have a passion for it and to be able to grow the message."
Parcel was named South Carolina Ms Agriculture USA in 2022 but did not attend the national competition this year.
"Really, I got involved from Emily being in it," her sister Hickok explained.
Hickok's agricultural interests include show pigs, corn, soybeans, and precision agriculture. She was also a 10-year Elkhart County 4-H Member.
"For me, it was that I really like their message, which is, as they say, they're 'AGvocates for Agriculture,' and since I've grown up in the farming community, I went to school for agriculture, it resonates deeply with me," she said.
Hickok currently works in Topeka at Redline Equipment selling tractors and farm equipment as an operations and support specialist.
"Sometimes ag gets a very bad rap and this gives me a way to put myself out there and promote this industry that I'm a part of and hopefully people will see it in a good light," she said.
The national competition isn't a requirement, but the sisters have decided they will compete. They'll compete in categories like interview, prepared speech, evening gown, and ag wear costume.
"I'm not always the best with public speaking so this gives me a way to put myself out there and grow my skills," Hickok said. "I'm excited. I've already had some neat opportunities."
Hicktok recounted visiting Huntington University for 'Farm Bill 2023 Roundtable' where Indiana Senator Mike Braun, Senate Ag Committee, met with constituents within the agricultural community to discuss important pieces to add to the Senate's quinquennial farm bill.
"I actually got to talk to him a little bit and even got a picture with him," she said.
Miss Agriculture USA is a national nonprofit organization that focuses on positively promoting agriculture featuring queens of all ages that promote, celebrate and educate about all the diverse aspects of agriculture.
Dani Messick is the education and entertainment reporter for The Goshen News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 574-538-2065.