DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College agricultural business student Shaelyn Bundy, of Dowagiac, March 23 was named the 2021 Michigan Miss Agriculture USA, advancing to national competition June 17-19 in Ohio.
Miss Agriculture USA is a nonprofit organization focused on positively promoting agriculture through queens of all ages who “agvocate,” celebrate and educate about farming’s diverse aspects.
Shaelyn, turning 21 in May, is the daughter of Brad and Stephanie Bundy. She is currently attending SMC and Michigan State University, for which she is fulfilling her internship with Watervliet Fruit Exchange. She will walk in SMC’s 54th Commencement in May.
Her agricultural interests include dairy feeder steers, market hogs, draft horses and market chickens. The former Penn 4-H member was Cass County Fair Queen in 2018.
More than agriculture, Miss Agriculture USA is about building confidence, promoting self-esteem, developing public-speaking skills, shaping strong leaders, networking and forming lasting friendships.
Bundy will compete in interview, introduction, ag wear, formal wear, impromptu question, prepared speech, photogenic and essay.
Though she did not grow up on a farm, Bundy, who is the president of SMC’s agriculture club, has been involved in agriculture her entire life.
“My dad showed (livestock) when he was little, and my brothers got involved. I was probably 5, if that,” she said. “I tagged along with them. I’ve had the most experience between swine and draft horses, which I showed at the Indiana and Iowa state fairs, St. Joseph County Fair in Centreville and the Michigan Great Lakes show at MSU in October.”
While still at Dowagiac Union High School, from which she graduated in 2019, Bundy knew what kind of degree she wanted to pursue from participating in the two-year agriculture and natural resources program at the Van Buren Technology Center in Lawrence.
The tech center exposed Bundy to plant science, animal science, natural resources concepts, floral design, veterinary science, production agriculture, landscape management and wildlife management. She was also involved with FFA.
“It really exploded my love for agriculture,” she said.
Bundy juggles being a student worker in SMC’s Office of First Year Experience and her own photography business with her 480-hour paid internship. She also reigns as Cass County Miss Agriculture USA, a title she received last August.
Since Bundy competed virtually, her crown will be mailed to her.
“It was definitely strange. The way the cameras were set up, I saw a side view of (the judges) who were looking straight ahead. I just looked at myself, then it looked like I was looking at them. I was nervous because you don’t know exactly what they’re looking for. They only see the top. You could be wearing pajama bottoms with a nice shirt,” she said with a laugh. “But it was fun competing for Miss Agriculture because it’s something I’m passionate about and I love talking to people about.”
She also spoke at SMC’s Ag Day Feb. 12, 2020, from a formal presentation in Mathews Conference Center East to a more relaxed dialogue at the greenhouse.
“I love helping students figure out what they want to do in their careers and make it easier for them,” she said.
When Blossomtime’s Key to the Cities tour stopped in Lawrence, she showed visiting queens around the tech center, which she credits for “making me not bashful. I used to be timid talking to people.”
As things start reopening post-pandemic, she hopes to get involved with Growing Hope Globally, which helps developing countries with farming.
“I’m also going to start a YouTube channel [to spotlight producers,]” she said. “I’ve spoken to a farmer in Hartford about what he does for his fields, from planting to harvesting, so people can get insight.”
Another SMC student, Niles’ Aubrey Allen, is the 2021 Michigan Miss United States Agriculture, which has nationals in June in Orlando. A third SMC student, Andrea Lee from Hudson, is Bundy’s first runner-up.
The SMC/MSU partnership makes earning an MSU certificate more affordable, as students are able to take SMC courses — and pay SMC’s tuition rate — for a portion of the program, plus scholarships and financial aid are available.
SMC awards 10 $2,500 scholarships each year to students who have been involved in FFA or an agricultural program through the Edward A. Guse Agricultural Scholarship.
The George Wuszke Memorial Agricultural Scholarship awards $1,000 to two qualified students in the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.