Ohio University junior and Athens native, Joshelyn Smith, represented the state of Ohio in the 2014 Miss Earth United States beauty pageant, held on July 12 in Los Angeles, California. Smith and the other state delegates made public appearances, participated in community service acts, and attended sustainability fairs to promote environmental awareness prior to the actual beauty pageant competition.
But, Smith hasn’t always been a pageant girl. Growing up, Smith strutted the stages with fake teeth and hair in Toddlers and Tiaras style pageants. But, around the age of 8, Smith grew out of the glamorous lifestyle and left pageantry to pursue dance and soccer.
She went on to study communications and public advocacy at OU, never giving a second thought about her pageant days. Then one day, Smith’s friend told her about Miss Earth and suggested she should compete.
“I went to the [Miss Earth] website and was totally convinced,” Smith said. “It seemed like an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Smith began by sending her portfolio in online, as a way to conserve resources. After reviewing her application, the board called her for a phone interview, which led to more interviews about her environmental platform and who she is as a person. Smith anxiously awaited a reply from the board. When she finally received a callback after all of her interviews, Smith was chosen as Miss Earth Ohio.
With “Beauties for a Cause” as the pageant’s official slogan, Smith had an environmental platform issue in mind. She wanted to spread awareness on environmental racism/injustice. Growing up in an Appalachian area, she stood for an issue that hit close to home.
“Even though Athens is not diverse racially, Appalachians have less power in regard to the decisions made about them,” Smith said. “It’s insane how the Board of Trustees makes decisions about us, without us.”
As her Miss Earth experience continued, Smith’s expertise on her issue grew. She began to think about her issue in other circumstances outside of Athens and focused on similar problems in Detroit. She attended Detroit’s Our Power Gathering event in June and immersed herself in the city’s activism for water rights and poverty. “The two factors dictate your health,” Smith said.
She also learned about sustainable agriculture after volunteering for a week at the Turtle Hill Farm in Stewart, Ohio in June. During her time on the farm she grew and ate all of her own food.
The competition ran its course and the Miss Earth United States title was awarded to Miss Earth Colorado. But, Smith was able to take a lot away from the competition without a crown.
“The experience was so empowering,” Smith said. “We were there for the same reason and we had similar feelings about things. It was a great way to be around people who were there to shine and no one was afraid to hold back.”
She is now continuing her studies at OU and has plans to live in the sustainable ACME House off campus her senior year. All eight students in the house have a job to do and Smith hopes to be the gardener of the home. She also plans to keep implementing changes in her everyday life from her Miss Earth experiences to continuously benefit the environment.
Taylor loves to be actively involved on campus and outside of class. She is majoring in Journalism and is seeking a social media certificate. She’s secretary for the Society of Professional Journalists and is the treasurer and goalkeeper for OU’s womens’ club soccer team. Taylor also writes for Thread Magazine…
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