Submitted Teen Miss United States Agriculture 2018 Allison Giles passes her crown to Mary Massey, who competed on behalf of Tennessee against representatives from every other state to win the title.

Submitted

Teen Miss United States Agriculture 2018 Allison Giles passes her crown to Mary Massey, who competed on behalf of Tennessee against representatives from every other state to win the title.

Farming and pageantry have been part of Macon County High School student Mary Massey's life for as long as she can remember, and competing in the Teen Miss United States Agriculture pageant was a way to bring those passions together.

What she did not expect was that she would return home from the national event in Orlando, Florida, with the crown and title in hand.

"It was amazing to win," Massey said. "The fact that me and Tennessee could be nationally-recognized was pretty wild. There's so much put into getting ready for the pageant ... it helps your speaking skills, builds confidence and lets you have fun meeting others."

Massey learned in October that she would be competing after winning the state title, and she started preparing immediately.

"That gave me quite a few months to get ready," Massey said. "Whether that was by watching what I ate, working out or getting files ready to take to nationals. The hard work and dedication you put into farming is the same with pageants. Getting into shape, eating good ... they tie together perfectly, and I love the combination."

After putting together an essay, headshots and other material, it was time to take on representatives from across the country at the main event.

"You start with interviews, so I'd go in with my panel of judges and they'd ask me questions related to agriculture and pageantry," Massey said. "Growing up in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) helped a lot, but knowing the background of American agriculture and being a farmer myself helped me develop a perspective I could use to represent the county."

From there, Massey went on to participate in the state-fun-fashion portion, where contestants dressed as someone to represent their state.

"I went as Dolly Parton," Massey said. "So, I wore a coat of many colors and had a guitar. I talked about the ways Dolly Parton represents Tennessee greatly and her work as a country music artist."

Massey had another chance to represent Tennessee and discuss its agriculture base during self-introductions.

"You'd go on stage, tell everyone who you are, what state you're representing and a bit about yourself," Massey said. "That leads to the main event, which is formal wear. You go out in a pageant dress and do your walk, and following that was the judges' results of who won."

Massey's victory marked her first national pageant title, and with it came a slate of new opportunities. She has previously won multiple county and state-level events since choosing to begin a pageant career in fourth grade.

"For the next year, I'll be traveling around the country, whether it be state fairs or county fairs in Tennessee, or gettting to go to the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky (or) the National Stock Show in Colorado ... to represent agriculture and the entire country," Massey said.

As a farmer, Massey has experience in raising sheep and cattle, and she has also showcased livestock at the county, regional and state levels.

"My dad also works for a man named George McDonald in Riddleton," Massey said. "They grow road crops, so you've got a bigger operation than we have here in Lafayette.

"Agriculture isn't just raising plants and animals. It's something you go through every day. Everyone needs to eat three meals a day, and I want people to realize that comes from a farmer."

After graduation, Massey plans to attend Tennessee Tech University and study agriculture, with a concentration in agricultural education.

Her career goal is to become both an agriculture teacher and an FFA adviser, in order to continue working with an organization close to her heart.

"FFA has been a big part of my life, and one of my favorite things to do is go to the national convention in Indianapolis, Indiana," Massey said. "The way I found out about the pageant was seeing the national queen there my freshman year, and I told myself I wanted to be her. I'm looking most forward to going to Indiana for convention, but instead of wearing my blue jacket, I'll be wearing my crown and sash to represent the pageant."