Thursday, December 30, 2010

The End of an Incredible Year... The Beginning of Another Beautiful Adventure

It's quite amazing to realize that in a matter of hours, 2010 will be over, and a new year will have begun. Around this time, many people make hundreds of resolutions that they don't entirely intend to keep, and end up forgetting about them in a matter of days, weeks, or months. For the first time, I can honestly say I don't have even one New Year's Resolution. This is not at all because I am perfect by any means, but simply because I've been making "resolutions" all year; I've been working towards goals and changing habits each and every day, and I fully intend to continue doing that throughout the year of 2011.

The year of 2010 was a roller-coaster; so many things happened, and it was simply indescribable. I turned 17; graduated from high school; applied to my dream college; won Miss Nebraska; deferred enrollment to said college; almost got charged by a bull; found out about and met my eldest brother for the first time; met my idol: the composer of my piano piece; went trick-or-treating for the first time; traveled to Houston, Tampa, and Orlando; watched my first Husker game; put 30,000 miles on the Miss Nebraska car; tried sushi for the first time; and so much more! And those, of course, are experiences outside of my "regular" Miss Nebraska duties! If anything can top this past year, I know it will be 2011. In a week, I'll be headed to Las Vegas to compete for Miss America, which will be an outstanding experience all in its own. The next six months will be crazy busy whether I win Miss America or continue my work as Miss Nebraska, so either way, I know this next year will be nothing short of amazing.

As I'm sure it was for everyone, this past month was a hectic one in the Scanlan household! My older sister, Sarah, returned from college for winter break, and my eldest sister, Angela, moved back in temporarily as well; the house was quite suddenly five times louder. Of course Christmas-time was filled with all sorts of Holiday activities, Christmas parties, decorating, baking, and more. I decked out the Official Miss Nebraska Car with holiday spirit, complete with greenery, poinsettias, Santa hats, and a nativity. My younger brothers "helped" me decorate a gingerbread house village, and my sisters and I hosted a Christmas party at my house so I could spend time with my friends one last time. (Who knew over forty teenagers could fit in our living room?)

I had the opportunity to speak to and perform for the Gering Business Club at their last monthly meeting at the Gering Civic Center, and had a wonderful time! All of the members were so much fun and an outstanding encouragement to me as well.

Yesterday I was able to appear on Channel 8 ABC News in Lincoln with Brittany Jeffers to chat about the upcoming Miss America competition. It was great seeing her again, and pretty neat to have last year's Miss Nebraska interviewing the current!

This week has been spent in the eastern part of the state, as I finish up preparations for Miss America. My wardrobe received its final alterations, I had my final appointment at The Strand salon, I met with Michele Strom, who will be going to Miss America with me as my makeup artist, and completed lots more "errands" as well. Of course, I came down with a nasty cold right about Christmas Eve, so my focus has been kicking that, which is almost gone now. My goal is to stay healthy and energized throughout the time I'm in Vegas, so health is definitely a priority right now! Tonight, I have a modeling job for "Into the Wild" New Year's Eve 2011 at Nomad Lounge in Omaha, so I'm super excited for another "first" for me! Should be a fun way to spend New Year's Eve, and if the weather cooperates, I'll be headed home on the first day 0f 2011!

Well, here's to a year well-spent, and looking forward to another year of trying new things, taking chances, giving it everything, and staying optimistic! As always, thank you so much for your incredible support and constant encouragement these past six months, and I look forward to serving you and working together in the next six months.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Story of the Dragonfly

I recently heard a wonderful story that a group of ladies in North Platte shared with another who had lost several loved ones this past year. I thought it was a beautiful metaphor that really puts things in perspective, so I thought I'd pass it along as well. Please share with those you know who may be hurting from loss this holiday season.

The Story of the Dragonfly

In a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond. Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew that when this happened their friend was dead, gone forever. One day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what he had found at the top. When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that he decided to take a nap. As he slept, his body changed. When he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful dragonfly. As he soared he saw the beauty of a whole new world and a far superior way of life than what he had ever known existed. He found he could fly and in his flight he discovered his world was brighter than anything he had ever imagined and the beauty was breathtaking.

Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking by now he was dead. He remembered his pact with the others below and started down to the water. He tried and tried to break through the surface to reach his friends, but couldn’t.
He wanted to go back to tell them what he had found, and explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended. He could not get back to tell his friends the good news. Then he understood that their time would come, when they too would know what he now knew. That one day we too will break out of the murky water and join the others we love in the bright light of heaven.

So he raised his wings and flew off into his joyous new life!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Getting Closer...

As I count down the days to Miss America, it's finally beginning to feel so near, so real. Everything has come together and been prepared, down to the minute details. Last week, the Miss Nebraska Organization held a send-off party for me in North Platte. Hosted by Miss Nebraska 2009 Brittany Jeffers, I got to model my wardrobe and perform my talent for those in attendance. Once again, it was wonderful to feel the support and encouragement from so many across the state. With approximately three weeks until the competition in Las Vegas, I'm feeling the excitement build more and more each day! Who knows what January 15th will bring? I'm not worried about the outcome, but the journey. And let me tell you, this journey has been incredible.

After the send-off on Saturday, I headed over to Mccook to sign autographs and take pictures with kids who came into the Viaero Wireless store there. We had a lot of fun! That night I also watched the Big 12 Championship with some Miss NE ladies; although a big disappointing, we had a great time. It was the first Husker game I've ever watched, in real life or on tv! (I don't think I'm supposed to tell people that, so shhh!) Over the weekend I also did some mock interviews and other prep work, and got to go visit Scout's Rest Ranch as well. The ranch is the home of "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and is absolutely beautiful! Various individuals and groups throughout the area decorate the rooms in the house for Christmas, so it was incredible to see the gorgeous decorations throughout. Beginning the 17th, they have tours, pictures with Santa, hayrack rides, apple cider, roasted chestnuts, and lots of fun, so if you're in the area, be sure to make it over!

On Tuesday I headed across the state to meet with Governor Heineman in Lincoln. We had a great talk about politics and various issues; he is a fantastic person, and a very strong leader. The following day I had the opportunity to present before the Nebraska Board of Education on my proposal to implement NEDA's Educator Toolkits into teacher training programs, as well as recognizing National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in the schools this year. Our time went very well, and the board members were very receptive and supportive of my presentation.

Yesterday was another Leadership Scottsbluff session, focusing on public speaking and communication. We had some fantastic speakers and presentations that of course apply very directly to my job every day. We also visited the Veteran's Home in Scottsbluff; I got to play cards with a Navy Air Corps veteran named Harry, and also played my talent piece for all the veterans. Every one of them has such an incredible story, and it was so amazing to see their appreciation for our time. Just playing games with them and chatting makes such a difference; as one veteran there told us, the best way to honor them is simply to tell them "I'm proud of you."

As travels slow a bit, I'll be able to spend some time with my family over the holidays, as well as get to work on some events that are in the works for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 20th-26th 2011. Be sure to mark your calendars to remember this week, wear purple for eating disorders awareness, and stay tuned for upcoming events across the state!

Of course, as the weather gets colder, remember to take some time to relax and enjoy the season. For a moving story about dedication and true character, find a copy of "Promises I Made My Mother" by Sam Haskell. This book is also a great gift for mothers or sons, as it presents an inspiring message about this powerful relationship.

Embrace the Season!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas is Coming!

Curled up here with Christmas carols playing, cinnamon candles burning, and my newly-decorated mini eating disorders awareness Christmas tree beside me, I'm feeling quite ready for Christmas! If you have yet to decorate your Christmas tree this year, consider using a purple decor for eating disorders awareness, hanging purple ornaments and awareness ribbons, and making a big purple ribbon for the top!

The day after Thanksgiving, my family always jumps into preparing for Christmas, so on Black Friday, we're gathered at home amidst piles of boxes, covering the house with decorations. For us, there's quite a few traditions that have accumulated over the years: the first present under the tree is a gold box that contains the Christmas story - also the first present we take out on Christmas; the strange brown banner, from which no one knows where it came, is always hung at the landing of the stairs; the same figurines are always placed on the fireplace mantle; the wreath that we've had for as long as I can remember is hung on the front door; and the old "Holiday Mail" bag is hung on the door handle, waiting for this year's holiday mail to join letters and cards from many years past. While many of our family traditions are preserved, we also did some new things this year: my dad finally caved and bought a new tree skirt to replace the fuzzy white one with ten years of tinsel and pine needles embedded into it; having bought a new Christmas tree last year, we decorated two trees this year, I set up one in the living room with white and gold decor, and my younger brothers took over the one in the den, covering it in colorful ornaments and candy canes; never having been a "hang up the stockings" kind of family, I decided to pull out our stockings to hang above the fireplace this year, only to find seven beautiful red stockings with each name painted on the trim...and one plain white stocking with "Teesh" (my nickname) scribbled, crossed out, and then written again, in black permanent marker. I guess I missed that decorating day! Oh well, I hung them all nonetheless.

I also got to kick off the Christmas season in Gering with the annual Christmas parade on Friday, and then in Scottsbluff on Saturday! After forgetting gloves for the first one, I quickly learned my lesson and stayed nice and warm the second evening. On Sunday I headed to North Platte after church for the 2nd Annual Festival of Trees. If you're in the North Platte area and have not attended, be sure to make it next year! Various area businesses decorate and donate a Christmas tree to be auctioned off on Sunday afternoon. The trees were absolutely beautiful, and all 18 were so creative! I definitely got some good ideas for our trees next year, and had a great time auctioning the trees to raise money for Children's Miracle Network.

It was a great weekend to start the holidays, and there will be much more to come over the next month!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Life itself is worth being thankful for; but how much more then, do we have to give thanks for? The lives we lead are truly incredible, and we have an unending list of things which we should always give thanks for. While I have always recognized this, this year Thanksgiving hit me especially hard as I realized how outstandingly blessed I am. If you're reading this right now, I am extremely thankful for YOU! Every day, I thank God for the people like you, who believe in me and support me in all that I do; I truly would not be here today without you.

My mom's birthday was on Thanksgiving this year, so we held a surprise birthday party for her on Wednesday. We held it at a fun pottery-painting place in Scottsbluff called Create Away. I painted an awareness ribbon shape purple and wrote "Accept Yourself...Accept Others" on it; I'll hang it in my office when it's done. My mom was completely surprised by the party and we had a great time with some of her close friends!

On Thanksgiving day, my whole family went to help with Thanksgiving in the Valley: a free Thanksgiving dinner for the needy in the valley. My younger sister Christine and I delivered meals to the homebound throughout Scottsbluff, and although it was very cold, the elderly people we delivered too were so appreciative of their Thanksgiving meal. Afterward, I headed home to start cooking up our meal! We had another family over, ate a great Thanksgiving dinner, (if I do say so myself - it was my first time doing it myself!) and played lots of games together throughout the evening. Just relaxing with friends and family not only reminded me of the most important things in life, but also why what I do is so important; I was reminded of the people who came to Thanksgiving in the Valley for food, the elderly who didn't have family around anymore, and the many youth across our state who do not have a loving family to take care of them. That's why I love what I do - I hope that through each small thing, I can make a difference in the lives of these people, and give them hope. I pray that throughout not only this year, but every year for the rest of my life, I will be striving to reach out to others and help them when they need it. I have been blessed in so many ways, and have so much to be thankful for! I don't know why this is, and I certainly don't deserve it; I only hope that I can make the most of the life I've been given and use it always to the glory of God.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Miss Lincoln/Miss Star City!

Congratulations to Jessica States, our new Miss Lincoln, and Rachel Foehlinger, our new Miss Star City! Also a big congratulations to Meghan Thalken, our new Miss Lincoln Outstanding Teen!

I had the chance to co-emcee this pageant in Lincoln this weekend, and it was a fabulous show! There were so many incredible young ladies, and the competition was tough. This is the last local for the calendar year, but I hope to see many of these ladies competing in more locals in 2011! We're quickly gathering some amazing titleholders to compete at Miss Nebraska next year, so be sure to mark June 11th on your calendars, and come watch the competition in North Platte!

Operation Christmas Child

Over the past few weeks, I have been working extensively with Operation Christmas Child, an outreach of Samaritan's Purse International Relief. This past week was the National Collection Week, so the project has been wrapped up across the country, and thousands of gift-filled shoe boxes are currently being shipped to processing centers across the nation. After processing, they will be on their way to children in over one hundred countries around the world to spread Christmas joy and the message of Christ's love. What an incredible project, and a powerful way to touch the lives of million of children worldwide!

As collection week drew to a close, I had the opportunity to help out at the Omaha collection center at Benson Baptist Church on Saturday, the Bellevue relay center at First Baptist Church on Sunday, and then the Scottsbluff collection center at another First Baptist Church on Monday! It was absolutely amazing to see so many people across the state working together to make an incredible impact - and that's not only happening in Nebraska; every state in the country, plus many more countries worldwide participate in this project each year! If you have never been a part of Operation Christmas Child, check it out at and make sure you join the project next year!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time Sure Flies When You're Having Fun!

The middle of November is here, and with it, the first snow in Scottsbluff and Gering! The days, weeks, and months have been flying by, and this past week has been no exception! Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to the Scottsbluff Lions Club at their weekly lunch, and then had a radio interview on KNEB about Miss America and my upcoming fundraiser event here in Gering.

Something that was very exciting for me happened this past weekend: I had the chance to meet and work with Calvin Jones, the composer of "White Water Chopped Sticks," the piece I'm playing for Miss America! The best part is, this was not a one-time meeting, but we will continue to work on the piece until it is perfected for the competition. It was so incredible to meet someone who has been an idol of mine for years! Calvin is a phenomenal musician and I was so inspired by the things he showed me. We revised the edits I had made to the two-and-a-half minute song to cut it to the necessary ninety seconds, and added some fantastic flourishes and fancy details. I've got my work cut out for me for the next few weeks, but I can't wait to perform this amazing piece in Las Vegas!

This week I spent the majority of my time in the Omaha/Lincoln area, heading over on Monday for an event exhibition show at the Cornhusker Hotel. There were over thirty event-oriented businesses and conference centers represented from all over the state, and I got to meet many people while at the booth for Quality Inn and Suites North Platte. (A fantastic sponsor of the Miss Nebraska pageant as well!)

While there, I had an interview with Steve Altmaier on Kearney's KGFW radio station about Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child project, which I have had the pleasure of participating in for many years, and am now volunteering as a state promoter at the church and media level. On Thursday, I joined Omaha's Morning Blend show on KMTV Action 3 News for an interview about the program, which you can view at

Now, many people may not know this, but the crown I wear is not gold, and does not have real diamonds. *Gasp!* (My apologies to those whose hopes and dreams I have just crushed) But, many people may also not know that many years ago, an official Miss Nebraska crown was created by Sartor-Hamann Jewelers that is indeed, very precious. It is made of white gold, with the base lined with pearls, and many different kinds of beautiful jewels and diamonds creating colorful flowers. For years, the Miss Nebraska each year would keep this crown with her, in a safe in her car, and only be able to wear it on the most important occasions. Years ago, because of safety and security risks, it went back to Sartor-Hamann in Lincoln, where it is kept today. After learning of this, I had to go see it! Donald Hamann, who was the owner of the store at the time it was made, and still is now, graciously took a picture with me with it. What a beautiful creation, and interesting piece of history!

P.S. Have you noticed the new changes to this site? I just figured out how to create additional pages and features, (I'm a little technologically-slow, I know) so please feel free to check it out, and let your friends and family know about Also, be sure to frequent the "Get Involved" and "Upcoming Events" pages to stay up-to-date on all of the fun things you can be a part of! Thanks!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So Many "Firsts" This Year!

First Impromptu Birthday Party Appearance

As I sat at my computer, sifting through the many emails that had gathered in my inbox over the week, my doorbell rang, and in came my friend and neighbor from across the street. She seemed panicked and breathlessly begged me to come over to her sister's birthday party, as she had just been chased over by fifteen screaming ten-year-old's who were demanding she fetch Miss Nebraska. I acquiesced to my tiny fans, donned my Cinderella Halloween costume and crown, and armed myself with photo cards and a Sharpie. We took pictures and I signed autographs for everyone, and then changed clothing and accompanied them to our local Zoo's Halloween "Spooktacular." We had so much fun, and all throughout the evening there were comments like "You're so could be Miss Anything! Miss Earth!" and when we found a huge line waiting at the Zoo: "We'll probably be able to go to the front of the line if we yell 'Miss Nebraska' loud enough!" and then the whispered statement from girl to girl: "Her real name is Teresa!" Nothing like an evening with some future Miss Nebraska's to keep you laughing and deeply encourage you! After all, they are what this is all about - inspiring the next generation to reach for what may currently seem impossible to them.

First Time Dressing Up for Halloween

On Saturday, I headed back to Chadron for the Miss Chadron/Northwest Outstanding Teen Pageant. I won Miss Northwest Outstanding Teen 2008, the very first year they started this program, so it's always so much fun to come back! This year, since the pageant was held on October 30th, the theme was Halloween, so everyone dressed up. I was Wonder Woman first, (not many people even recognized me with the dark hair!) and then changed into Cinderella after intermission. I co-emceed with Jon Marquez, who, after finding out I had never been, took me trick-or-treating for my first time... through the crowd! (There's another first) We got candy, gum, mints, little purse-sized shampoos, and even money! The whole pageant was so much fun, and the contestants did an outstanding job! A big congratulations to the new Miss Chadron Outstanding Teen Kaelia Nelson, and the new Miss Northwest Outstanding Teen Brooke Ludemann! These ladies will do an amazing job at the state pageant in June.

First Punkin' Chunkin'

On Sunday, I left Chadron for Petersburg, where they were having their annual Punkin' Chunkin'! This is a nationally sanctioned event where people built cannons to see who can shoot a pumpkin the furthest. The little town of Petersburg attracts thousands of people through this event, so I had a fantastic time watching the competition, presenting awards, and signing lots of autographs. Another first here: I signed several phones and ipods, as well as two stomachs! It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and the people there were so warm and welcoming. No wonder Petersburg has been voted the 32nd most family-friendly community in America!

On the way home, we stopped at the Kearney Archway, and I took a picture there to add to the tourism photo log!

Over-all, I had a fantastic Halloween weekend, and ended up logging quite a few "firsts!" Okay, I guess I have to share one last "first" I'm not quite so proud of: on the way home from Petersburg, my mom decided to drive and let me sleep a little bit. I woke up to her calling OnStar turn-by-turn directions, then looked out the window as we saw a sign for Julesburg, Colorado...not exactly "on the way home!" I decided to take over for her, and after correcting our little detour, we finally arrived home. Needless to say, we're using OnStar from now on!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Most Rewarding Experiences in Life

"Everybody Can Be Great, Because Everybody Can Serve" - Martin Luther King, Jr.

My parents always made it a point to encourage and emphasize the importance of community service and volunteering to help others. Over the past few years especially, I began to grasp the significance of serving others - after all, it is the perfect anecdote to feeling small and insignificant in this world. As Martin Luther King, Jr. so rightly stated, everybody can serve. It is so incredible to know that everybody, no matter what age or background, can make a difference in the lives of others... even my young little self. This past week has included some super fun service projects that I thought I'd just share a little about.

In Scottsbluff County, there is a program called Meals on Wheels, and one called Shopping for Seniors. I recently joined and started my first day on Tuesday! Meals on Wheels is a program that delivers meals to the homebound, elderly, and disabled. Volunteers each take a route that takes about an hour to make the deliveries. This is such a wonderful service to those who would not otherwise be getting the proper nutrition they need each day. Shopping for Seniors is a program where volunteers call those who are not able to do their own grocery shopping, take down their grocery list, and then shop for it for them. Our local grocery store here in Scottsbluff, Plaza Foods Co-op, then delivers the groceries. Both of these programs are vital to many people in the area, and I am so excited to now be a regular volunteer with these programs!

On Monday, I went to Longfellow Elementary, here in Scottsbluff, to help kindergarteners and first graders carve pumpkins for the local Zoo's "Spooktacular" - a Halloween event. We had so much fun as they drew out their designs, and then we worked together to pull out the goo and seeds (I usually ended up doing most of that!) and carving out the faces. Pictures from that day will be coming soon on my Facebook page!

Thursday was the community soup kitchen, so a couple friends and I headed over to the local First Presbyterian Church to help serve a sloppy-joe dinner to a crowd of hungry people. It is always so incredible to see their appreciation for the food, and remember just how blessed we all are.

A couple months ago, I began sponsoring a little girl from Peru named Azumy, through World Vision. Then, when I attended the Women of Faith conference, I found a little boy named Heh, from Myanmar, and "adopted" him as well. Even though I'm not allowed to have children, or I'll be disqualified from the Miss America program, I guess I found a "loophole" here! (: After all, I do like to call them my children!
Through World Vision, it only takes $35 a month to take care of a little boy or girl- what a tiny sacrifice to make when it could save the life of a child on the other side of the world. It is so much fun to send them letters and hear back from them, and I just recently sent over some coloring supplies and stickers for Christmas. It's just amazing that every person can so easily change someone's life! If you are at all interested in finding more information about this, just go to - there are many ways in which you can start making a difference today.

Although it is hard to believe the holiday season is around the corner, it's true - Christmas is only about eight weeks away! One of the greatest and most fun projects to be a part of this Christmas is Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse. Each year, over 8 million children receive shoe boxes full of essential needs, plus toys and other things, for Christmas through this program. It's so easy to participate, too!
You can go to and find complete instructions on how to pack a shoe box, and then either mail it their national offices, or find your nearest collection center. We have one right here in Scottsbluff, so I'm getting started right away! You can put coloring supplies, hygiene items, toys, and candy in a regular shoe box, wrap it if you'd like, put a label on it to indicate whether it's for a boy or girl, and what age group, (found at the website) and then mail it or drop it off at a collection center! It's a great activity to include the whole family in - I can remember all of my brothers and sisters going to the store with my parents to load up a cart with these items. I loved picking out all sorts of things for kids my age who I knew were in a country far away, but loved Christmas all the same.
We would go home and I would fill and wrap as many boxes as I could, thinking about the little girls across the world for whom this would most likely be the only present they received on Christmas. Knowing that by doing something so small, you are making all the difference in the world for someone you may never know, is the most wonderful feeling in the world.

Each of us is not great or wonderful in any way, of our own merit, but we CAN by great, because each and every one of us can serve others, even in some small way.

Striving to Serve,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Nothing to Do or See in Nebraska? Think Again!

When I was growing up in Western Nebraska, I simply couldn't wait to move out of the state, and I loved that our annual family vacations were always to far-away states such as California or Florida. Over the past few years, however, I have grown to absolutely love this beautiful Mid-Western state I call home. It took quite a while for me to even realize how much I was missing out on; I had lived here for over ten years before I had even visited the capitol, and (I'm ashamed to say) I have yet to make it to a Husker game! Now, as I zip back and forth across the state, I am continually finding more and more interesting and amazing places that I had never even known about.

A couple weeks ago, the Miss America Organization launched "Miss America Brands," a clothing line inspired by Miss America. They sent each state titleholder a tee-shirt to take a photograph in somewhere in their state. As I considered where I'd like my photo, I realized I couldn't pick just one place to "mark" Nebraska. I took the picture in that shirt in front of Chimney Rock, but decided to start a photo log of all the other beautiful Nebraska spots that make our home so unique.

Last weekend, on the way to Chadron, I stopped by Car Henge, an amazing replica of Stone Henge, only in cars, in Alliance. There are also several other sculptures around the area, all very interesting. Car Henge is a free attraction, and is the only one of its kind in America! They have a website for the site, including Car Henge souvenirs and gear: Such a neat place!

Then, when I got home, I stopped near the sign for the Scottsbluff National Monument, (the monument is practically my front yard) a beautiful summit that frames the valley. There is a mile of biking trail from my house to the Visitors' Center, and then a two-mile walking trail that I love to run on in the summer and fall. There is also a road for driving that goes almost all the way to the top, and then short walking trails you can take to the summit. The Monument has always been one of my favorite places, and was a major landmark on the Oregon Trail. Also, the city of Scottsbluff received its name because an explorer by the name of Scott lost his group while up on the Monument, and died there. Just a little bit of history for you! (:

For the next seven months, I will continue visiting Nebraska tourism spots and logging them with pictures while I travel the state. I'm starting an album on my Facebook page for this, called "Tour Nebraska with Miss Nebraska." I know there are so many incredible places in our state, so if you have gone somewhere amazing that I need to visit, please let me know! I'm so excited to show others all that Nebraska has to offer and that we truly have "The Good Life."

Your Nebraska Explorer,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest

Congratulations to Nicki Windham, our new Miss Chadron, and Mariah Cook, our new Miss Northwest! All nine contestants did a fantastic job, and the competition was tough! This year was a special one for the Miss Chadron/Northwest pageant, as Linda Teahon and Brenda Bump, the fabulous directors of twenty years, stepped down. It was a wonderful anniversary celebration, with information about each past titleholder and what they were up to currently. It was incredible to see that every one of the forty past titleholders have graduated college and are now making wonderful lives for themselves. This is the power and tradition of the Miss America system: helping young women achieve their goals and go above and beyond the status quo. Linda and Brenda were instrumental in making this happen in the Chadron/Northwest Nebraska area, and they will be missed, but their legacy is in the many girls whom they have made a lasting impact on. Thank you, Linda and Brenda, for your hard work and dedication, and to all the volunteers around the state for the work you do at the local, state, and national levels. This program would not be here without you, and I know my life would not be the same without the undying support and encouragement you provide.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Family is Always There to Keep You Grounded

This past weekend I had the chance to take a little family time, as seven of us (my sister Sarah couldn't come home from college in Indiana for the weekend) loaded into our big white van, and headed out to Wichita, Kansas. My parents were both raised there, and most of our relatives are still in that area, so our bi-annual family reunion on my dad's side was held in Hope, Kansas again this year. We went to visit my Uncle Fred in the hospital in Wichita, as he crashed a couple weeks ago during a dirt-bike race and broke several ribs and both hips. He's doing a lot better, and was laughing too much(as always) for his ribs. My brother Jerod and his wife also came down to meet us there, so my dad and brothers had the chance to meet him for the first time! We went out to dinner, as it was also my younger brother Adam's birthday- he's the big 13 now!

The next day we spent time with all the relatives at the family reunion - it was so great to be able to see everyone again! With about a nine hour drive each way, our family sure got a lot of quality time in that van! It was a pretty short weekend, as we drove back home on Sunday so the kids could get to school on Monday, but it was a much-needed mini-vacation with the people who keep me grounded. I am so lucky to have such an amazing and supportive family who always shower me with all the love I could ever need. I am so very thankful for not only my family, but also for every person who has taken me as their family, and is just as encouraging and loving. You are truly my family as well, and I love each and every one of you! This fall, don't forget the people in your life who have always been there for you, and remind you who you are and where you've come from. We have so much to be thankful for!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Taking a Year Off School, But Not a Year Off Learning!

I have not always been an inquisitive person, but over the years I have really grown to LOVE learning. There's just so much out there in this world, and having only had 17 years to learn about it, I still have a very long way to go! So although this year has included taking a break from school, I really think I'm learning more than I ever learned throughout a year of schooling!

For those who don't know, my future plans (God willing) include obtaining a degree in Government: American Politics and Policy at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia, and then going on to Law School. I hope to become an attorney and then a judge, and eventually become involved in the political arena; my highest goals being to become President or a Supreme Court Justice. (Somewhere along the way, I'd like to try out being a flight attendant and truck driver, and own a ranch and then a clothing store, but that's secondary to the larger picture of the law/government/political realm) Because of this, I am very interested in politics, and despite not yet being old enough to vote, I love staying up on the issues and learning more about our government, so I've been finding some great opportunities to do this.

A couple weeks ago, I attended a "Common Sense and the Constitution" seminar in Hastings, by speaker Glenn Freeman. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, make sure you go! He is absolutely amazing, and really brought it back to basics with the foundation of our country: the Constitution. Frustrated with our current state of affairs? It's because we have wandered away from the Constitution. If you haven't done so recently, read through it, and carefully examine it; it's pretty incredible some of the things you find!

Also, a couple days ago I attended a Liberty Rally in Gering with my dad, where several local politicians running for different elections were speaking. It was great to hear some ideas and opinions, and to see what is important to the Western part of Nebraska this election. Afterward, I got a photo op with some students from Gering High School, where I attended my Junior year. It was great to see some students who were engaged and interested in the people and jobs that really control every area of our lives; I hope more and more young people begin to realize that and get involved!

Yesterday, I was off to North Platte for the Community Domestic Violence Intervention Program luncheon. I had the opportunity to sing there, as well as listen to some powerful speakers who were very passionate about the cause of domestic violence intervention. As a society, we have begun to think less and less of fights in relationships, and ignore sexist or demeaning comments, when we should be taking these things seriously. Here are 9 ways everyone can help prevent domestic violence, shared by Tonya Folk of the CDVIP:
1) Be a knowledgeable source of information about domestic violence services available in your community
2) Believe that domestic violence is unacceptable and say it out loud
3) Do not laugh at sexist jokes
4) Call 911 when witnessing, visually or auditory, an abusive situation
5) Reach out and partner with your local domestic violence programs for awareness events and/or fundraisers
6) Talk to your family and friends about ways you can help end domestic violence
7) Help to schedule a training to educate your company's employees about domestic violence
8) Teach boys and girls to respect each other and that there is no excuse for domestic violence
9) Model the behavior you expect in society

Today, I had my second session of Leadership Scottsbluff, and learned so much about not only Panhandle issues, but Nebraska issues in general. In case it isn't obvious, we live in a primarily agricultural state. Just making sure you understand that, in case you've never driven across the state... kidding, kidding! We all know that, but it was very interesting to learn about ground and surface water: things that affect agriculture in so many ways. Also, Jess Peterson, the United States Cattlemen's Association, Exec. Vice President, spoke about issues involving cattle and the industry there, another very important issue to the state of Nebraska. As a side note, Jess was named Mr. Montana this year! Crazy coincidence that was pretty cool, so we had to get a picture! (:

All in all, as each day goes by, I really am learning something new every day... or, some twenty new things each day, really! It is just so great to learn more and more about this great state we live in, and I'm really starting to appreciate the unique strengths we bring to the country as a whole. Think Nebraska is a nothing to see, nothing to do, boring place? Go ahead, do some research, and take a look... I think you'd be surprised at what you find!

Proud to be a Nebraskan,