‘Agriculture's My Passion - One I Love Sharing'
Theta Alpha sister earns finalist spot in nationally renowned competition this May
When it comes to the “green” movement that’s sweeping North America and, indeed, the world, Phi Sigma Sigma has its own “green queen” in Becky Paris – a member of our Theta Alpha Chapter and a high-profile advocate for sustainable agriculture years before it was hip to be square about the environment.
A lifelong farm girl attending Northern Michigan University (NMU), Becky recently learned she’ll be competing alongside five other finalists in the “Alice in Dairyland” pageant, scheduled May 13-15 in her home state of Wisconsin.
Perhaps you’ve never heard of “Alice” before. But if you’re from the Midwest or Plains states – or involved in any way in the agricultural industry – you know what a big deal Becky’s finalist status is in America’s heartland.
Indeed, Becky dreamed of becoming “Alice” – Wisconsin’s year-long agricultural spokeswoman – long before she was a 4-H kid working on her parent’s 132-acre dairy farm in Belleville, waking during summers at the crack of dawn to handle chores or help milk their herd of 90-plus cows.
Unlike most girls, she wasn’t drawn to the pageant because she hoped to win a tiara and sash – though she’s certainly worn them before, having been crowned “Dairy Queen” in both her hometown and county.
What drew her then, as now, was her passion for agriculture and her love of sharing it with others.
Becky explains that the young woman who's ultimately designated “Alice” spends an entire year on a traveling PR mission – speaking at fairs and other special events about everything from horticulture to forestry and helping people understand the importance of agriculture in their everyday lives.
“People come over to you because of the crown – and then you have this incredible opportunity to tell them some of the amazing ways agriculture affects them,” she explains, recalling her experiences as a dairy queen. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, wow! That’s something I didn’t know before and didn’t even dream I’d know….’ I love making that kind of difference.”
Beyond these activities, Becky is very much a “leading lady” on NMU’s campus and in the surrounding (albeit, often chilly or downright frozen) community of Marquette, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Since joining Phi Sig in 2005, Becky has served key leadership roles on judicial board and in recruitment (we’re the largest sorority on this campus, she reports). Ultimately, she even won the high-profile presidency of the campus Panhellenic council.
A standout student, Becky was also selected for NMU’s esteemed two-year Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP), which gives promising undergrads a leg up in life through exclusive professional, leadership and learning opportunities. Through SLFP, she and another Phi Sig sister, Danielle Brandreth, founded and managed a unique mentoring program that pairs college students with foster-care kids to promote good decisions and healthy, active lifestyles.
It’s been so successful, both Becky and Danielle were recently named “Volunteers of the Year” by the foster-care organization, and the program is slated to continue beyond their graduation – quite an achievement for what was initially just a class assignment.
Though she’s set to earn her business-management degree within weeks, Becky acknowledges that, to her, graduation feels less like the end of an era – and more like the beginning of one.
The “Alice” competition scheduled for mid-May has a lot to do with that: “There’s no time to rest!” she admits with a chuckle.
Contestants will be rigorously judged on their performance during radio and television interviews, their ability to promote agriculture and related products, their writing and speaking ability, and more.
“I’ve waited my whole life for this chance,” says Becky – who admits she’s a bit nervous, but feels prepared and is making the most of every minute as a finalist.
“I’m honored to be among these other women – and, believe me, they will be tough competition,” Becky says. “No matter what happens, I’ve already learned so much by participating – and I know that, like Phi Sig, this experience will help me continue striving to be the very best I can be.”
Wish Becky good luck!
Check out her “My Phi Sig” profile page by clicking here.
Do you know an outstanding Phi Sigma Sigma collegian who should be profiled here? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.