A former Enumclaw resident has been crowned the National AgVocate in the America’s Miss Agribusiness pageant.
Sondra Lundquist, 33, was surprised by the honors on Nov. 21.
“I wasn’t expecting to win one optional. I was up against some truly amazing women,” Lundquist said in a Dec. 15 interview. “So to win all of it just scared me a bit.”
Lundquist grew up on Midnight Mountain Farm off 248th Ave., raising horses and caring for a small orchard.
“It’s a small family farm — my mom, my dad, and myself,” she said. “Only child, all the responsibility. And all of the blame.”
But farm work wasn’t her only passion, and Lundquist started competing in pageants at a young age. However, she’s quick to point out the pageants she was interested in weren’t the usual you see in the media; she enjoyed what’s known as natural pageants, “which focus more on who you are, and what you’ve done and what your goals are, rather than who has the most expensive gown and spray tan,” she said.
Though she keeps her mailing address in Enumclaw, Lundquist follows her husband around the country while he works, which is how she found herself in Hillsborough County, Florida, for her most recent pageant.
“I think I saw a picture of one of the queens and went, ‘Oh, my god, that is so cool,’ because I’ve done pageants, but agriculture pageants are something new,” she recalled. “Me being a farm kid, this was perfect.”
Like many pageants, contestants are scored on a personal introduction, where they have 60 seconds to tell the judges about themselves, and on their formal evening wear.
But if you’re aiming to be a queen, you’ve also got to compete in what are called “optionals” — western wear, state fashion wear, an essay, or another interview with the judges.
Of course, Lundquist didn’t just pick one optional, or two, but all of them, and clearly blew the judges away, since they first crowned her America’s Miss Agribusiness.
But unknown to her, the judges also picked her to be a National AgVocate, a rank higher than Miss Agribusiness.
Lundquist recalls the announcer reading a portion of the essay of the soon-to-be-named AgVocate, “and about halfway through the essay I went, ‘Oh crap, that’s me!’”
As National AgVocate for the pageant, it’s Lundquist’s job for the next two years to appear at various agriculture and agribusiness functions and get to know the who’s-who of the farming world.
“National AgVocates work closely with the National Office to promote things that are important to the future of the Agribusiness field: Traveling to trade shows, conferences, and fairs so that women’s voices in agriculture can be heard,” said Dwight Crews III, chief operations officer at America’s Miss Agribusiness. “AgVocates also help AMAg with our primary mission. At each one of our events, the contestants are required to bring canned food items or items the local community needs: jackets, clean water, shoes, etc. We raise food for local food banks, veteran’s homes, and rescue missions. We work with any organization that is dedicated to feeding the hungry.”
At the same time, Lundquist is making it her mission to represent farmers of all kinds across the country.
“I want to find out what farmers feel is their biggest problem and how they would fix it, if they could. And when I go to, say, Olympia and speak to the politicians, say ‘Hey, I want to see it fixed,’” she said. “I don’t just represent my state or region — I represent agriculture everywhere.”