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East wins Miss Alabama Ag crown

Casey East stood on stage waiting for the name of Miss Alabama Agriculture 2009 to be called. She knew it would be one of two young women who are “gorgeous, smart and have it all together.”

The thought that it might be her name didn’t cross her mind.

“I went to the pageant hoping to do as well as I did last year when I finished third,” East said. “That was all that I was hoping for. But I hadn’t placed so I didn’t even think about winning.”

When her named was called as Miss Alabama Agriculture, East was caught by total surprise.

“I’m so proud and honored to be able to represent Alabama as Miss Agriculture,” she said. “I’m going to represent Alabama and agriculture to the best of my ability. This is a great opportunity for me and I’m so appreciative of it.”

East of Banks was crowned Miss Alabama Agriculture during the closing session of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 87th annual meeting in Mobile Monday night.

As the winner, East received a $2,000 scholarship and the use of a new Dodge Charger for the next year. She will represent Alfa Farmers at a variety of events during the coming year.

“I guess I’m prouder of the scholarship than of the car,” East said. “But I love the car. I’ve never had a new car before. This morning when it was raining so hard I didn’t drive it. I didn’t want it to get rained on.”

The new car that East will drive for the coming year comes complete with stickers identifying her as Miss Alabama Agriculture.

“I’m proud for people to know that I’m Miss Alabama Agriculture and that I represent such wonderful people and our state’s largest industry – agriculture,” she said.

East said it was probably her knowledge of Alabama’s agriculture that helped her win the title.

“I’d studied really hard preparing for the pageant, and I already knew a lot about agriculture in Pike County because I’ve been involved in 4-H for so long,” she said.

Early in the competition, East had an opportunity to let the judges know what things in life are most important to her.

“There were 40 contestants in the pageant and, as a way of introducing ourselves, we were asked to bring an item that best represents us,” she said. “I collect teddy bears so I took one that has a secret compartment. In that compartment I had hidden things that have made me who I am – a photograph of my family, my 4-H pin, my Alpha Gamma Delta pin and a letter from my best friend. They have all helped shape my life.”

East gave credit for winning the Miss Alabama Agriculture title to the things she learned and experienced as a member of 4-H. As an example, she said the contestants were placed in groups and given the name of a commodity that is produced in Alabama. Each group had to do a skit or a commercial about the importance of poultry farming in Alabama.

The most intense part of the pageant was the interview.

“That was probably the hardest interview that I have ever done,” East said. “You had to know a lot about agriculture. The judges would give you the name of a commodity and you had to tell them which Alabama county was famous for producing it. And, it wasn’t easy things like peaches from Chilton County. They asked about watermelons, pecans and strawberries.”

After the tough interview, East said the walk on stage was a breeze.

“The entire pageant was a lot of fun and a great experience,” she said. “I’m so proud to have had the opportunity and look forward to the duties of Miss Alabama Agriculture.”

Her first official duty will be to address the Alabama Legislature and ask for their acceptance of her as Miss Alabama Agriculture.

She will participate in Agriculture Days around the state and in the Alfa Leadership Conference in a leadership role and speak to any audience about agriculture in Alabama.

East is a senior at Troy University and will graduate in the fall of 2009 with a degree in English language arts education. She is considering a career in education or as a lobbyist. “I’ve become real passionate about politics and I think I would like to be a lobbyist for agriculture or education,” she said. “But right now, I’m happy being Miss Alabama Agriculture.”

East is the daughter of Philip and Kathy Eas,t of Banks.