Her year as queen included helping judge other county’s pageants, speaking to children about confidence and inner beauty and being named first runner-up in the state fair queen contest.
But this summer, Allie Abney isn’t getting to spend much time at the Johnson County fair. Instead, she’s gaining experience for her career.
Abney, a sophomore at Purdue University, was named Johnson County fair queen last year. This year, she handed her title over to the next queen.
This summer, Abney is working as an intern for Monsanto, an agricultural products company. She is traveling through the northern part of the state, working with farmers who use the company’s seeds. It’s a side of the business she didn’t get to see when she was raising and showing belted Galloway beef cattle at the Johnson County fair.
“On our beef cattle farm, all I knew was that cows ate (grain),” she said.
But she said she never would have pursued a career in agribusiness if it hadn’t been for 4-H and FFA programs.
Since grade school, Abney was an active 4-H member, showing beef cattle and entering other competitions, such as photography.
“I tried a little bit of everything; but as I got older, I figured out which ones I enjoyed and was better at,” she said.
She was elected president of the state FFA and spent a year traveling around Indiana, visiting high schools and working with FFA groups. She gave speeches at banquets and put on workshops and met with state legislators to promote agriculture and youth agriculture programs such as FFA.
“4-H was what led me to getting involved in FFA — both are rooted in agriculture. They propelled me to get more involved in the FFA and helped me grow as an individual with leadership skills and prepared me when I ran for Miss Johnson County and (in the state queen competition),” she said.
For Abney, entering the queen competition was about representing the county she loves and the scholarship award, more than competing as a beauty contestant. The judges were most interested in how the young women appeared on stage in terms of intelligence and confidence — that is what makes someone the best representative of the county, she said.
“Your inner beauty is portrayed in how you act,” she said. “If you have confidence, it doesn’t matter what your dress looks like. If you feel beautiful and confident, that will come through on stage.”
Abney has used that idea to help inspire girls in similar programs across the state. She recently went to Cass County and talked with 50 young women, ages 7 to 20, about personal growth and leadership. She told them the happiest girls are the prettiest.
Abney also has helped judge queen pageants in Bartholomew and Scott counties. She’s enjoyed her time with the girls and hopes to do more of the same kind of work in the future.
“I’d love to continue working with 4-H programs that have princess pageants and queen pageants,” she said. “They help the girls grow up with a great foundation and continue to blossom and grow as individuals.”
Name: Allie Abney
Queen experience: 2014 Johnson County Fair queen; state fair queen first runner-up
Fair activities: 4-H projects included photography and showing beef cattle raised on her family farm in Bargersville
Schools: Franklin Community High School, class of 2013; Purdue University, majoring in agribusiness
Current job: Summer intern at Monsanto
Leadership roles: Former state FFA president