Maci Wehri is an English literature student here at DSU who is also seeking an associate degree in theater and a minor in communications. She is also in Ag Club, a secretary for the University Players, and president of the Campus Activities Board. On top of all that, Maci was crowned National Miss Agriculture USA this summer in Ohio.
We got the chance to ask her a few questions about her journey and experience so far.
So, to start, you had mentioned that you found out about Miss Agriculture USA through social media. What’s the story behind that?
I found out about the Miss Agriculture USA organization through Instagram. I was scrolling one day a couple summers ago and saw a post about signing up. I immediately asked my parents if I could join, and they said no. I didn't give up, though, and the next year, I tried again. I think they got tired of my pestering and finally started to consider it. They still weren't convinced until one day my dad brought home a Farm Journal with an interview from the 2021 National Mrs. Agriculture Katherine Curren. She competed as the 2021 Mrs. North Dakota the year before. He asked me if this was the same organization, and when I said yes, he said, “Hm, seems legit” and walked away. I took that as my sign and signed up the next week when the 2022 registration opened.
Was it important for you to get back to your agriculture roots? Why?
When I started going to DSU, I was not an agriculture major. I had gone through my entire junior high and high school years in FFA. Once I was in college, I had lost the thing that I was most passionate about for the past six years of my life. I was still going out to my family's ranch every weekend, but it felt like I was missing something. When I saw Miss Agriculture USA, I knew that this was my chance to be back in an organization that I could grow my love for agriculture outside of high school. Agriculture is such an important part of my daily life, and the lives of so many other people, that I didn't want to give up advocating for it just because I wasn't studying it.
Farm safety is your main message as an “agvocate.” Can you tell us a little more about that?
Farm safety has been an important topic in my life since I was 10 years old. The summer before I entered sixth grade, my brother passed away in a farming accident. He had been preparing to spray a field by using a high crop sprayer when the powerline that was nearby arced and caused 42,000 volts of electricity to go through the piece of machinery and then through his body. Ever since that day, I have had questions as to why this had to happen to my family. After thinking about what to make my platform for my year as 2022 North Dakota Miss Agriculture, I knew that I could answer those questions for myself. I knew that if I could talk to others and educate them on farm safety, I could potentially help save someone else's brother, father, grandfather, or any other close person in their lives. If I could educate people on this topic, then my brother's death would not be in vain.
Would you encourage others here at DSU to get involved in similar activities? Why?
Miss Agriculture USA is now such a huge part of my life, and I love it to pieces. Others may not find being a queen so exciting, but for me it is everything that I could have ever hoped for. Students are very busy, but I would highly encourage them to find something that they enjoy. Whether it is a sport, a job, a hobby, or something that nobody else has ever thought of. To enjoy life, you should have something that you find exciting or exhilarating. For me, it's putting on a crown and sash and speaking about what I think is important. To any DSU student reading this, find something that you can do outside of school. You don't have to be defined by just your major.
What has this experience taught you?
Believe it or not, before I had my title—first as 2022 North Dakota Miss Agriculture USA then as 2022 National Miss Agriculture USA—I was the most shy, anxiety-ridden person that you could ever meet. Through my experiences, I have gained so much skill in speaking with others, large and small. I have talked to the youngest kids who think I'm a Disney princess all the way to the governor of North Dakota. I have done over 30 speaking engagements, some on the most prestigious ag TV network, RFD-TV, and have been able to hold my ground. Do I still go back to my car and squeal a little after doing these things? Absolutely. Do I still look down at my hands during events and see they are shaking from nerves? All the time. The thing is, though, that I know I don't have to be perfect. I just have to be myself.
Will you continue to be a part of the Miss Agriculture USA community?
My time as 2022 National Miss Agriculture USA will come to an end in June 2023. After that I intend on continuing my degree and eventually working for a radio station that understands agriculture and its importance. I will not be a queen anymore, but I will still “agvocate” as much as I can. After my year of service, I will continue to encourage people to join the organization and cheer on the people that I have already met.
Thank you for sharing, Maci. We hope you enjoy your year of royalty and continue to be an amazing advocate for everything you believe in.