Strawberry Queen Pageant

In a small town just in between Tampa and Orlando resides Plant City. Plant City is a small, yet powerful town, known for their strawberries. In fact, it is the winter strawberry capital of the world. How is this possible? Well, the soil is rich, the farm land is vast and the weather is perfect. You see, it doesn’t get too hot or too cold in Plant City during the winter / harvesting months (Thanksgiving to Easter). When a cold front does come through, the farmers will turn on their water sprinklers, just before the front hits. This is to create a frozen shell around the berries. The shell protects the berries from frostbite and it makes it a little more sweeter.

How do I know all of this? I competed in the hometown scholarship pageant, Strawberry Queen. Strawberry Queen  can be compared to Miss America. Typically, the pageant takes place each year during the first or second weekend in Feb. In order to compete in the Strawberry Queen pageant, you must live in Plant City limits, are between the ages of 16 and 20 and have good academic standing. The Queen and her court (4 other gals) represent the town throughout the year but most importantly during the Strawberry Festival season. For the most part, any gal who lives in Plant City waits anxilsuly for her chance to compete for Strawberry Queen.

The phases of competition include: personal interview, 30 second on-stage commercial / public speaking, swimsuit (it has changed to casual wear) and evening gown. After those phases are complete the judges narrow down the girls to a top 10. The top 10 is then whisked back to a private, sound proof room. Each girl is pulled to answer the same onstage question. Only the audience knows the onstage question. The question is typically about Plant City or the festival.

Although, I did not become Strawberry Queen, I did make it to the top 10. I prepared and prepared for this pageant for about a year. My preparations included an interview prep and onstage question prep as these were the most nerve wrecking phases. My coach also helped me with the commercial / public speaking phases and walking on stage. Competing in the pageant really gave me boost to the real world interviewing and confidence with public speaking. I can honestly say that preparing for Strawberry Queen helped me with my interviewing skills and public speaking skills.

Check out the photos below from the competition!

9929_1146794905747_3708313_n 9929_1146794945748_3504957_nTo learn more about the Strawberry Festival visit:  Website

To learn more about the pageant: Website

*Photo on the left was taken after the 30 second commercial / public speaking phase.

*Photo on the right was taken during the onstage question.

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Seatbelts Save Lives. Fact.

 

My friend, Katie Marchetti, passed away in 2006. As soon as I heard the news, I made a personal vow to ALWAYS wear my seat belt. She would have survived the car accident if she was wearing the seatbelt.

Ill be honest, I was never concerned about wearing my seatbelt until Katie passed away.

Since her passing, I have represented the Katie Marchetti Foundation at various speaking engagements. One of which was at the state capital as a lobbyist. Our lobbying agenda was to convince law makers to change the law. At the time of her death until June 2009 the Florida seatbelt law was a secondary law. Meaning that anyone under the age of 18 could be pulled over for not wearing their seatbelt. Even law enforcement has told me that it is difficult to enforce the law because it is hard to judge the drivers age.

The current law is a primary law. Anyone and everyone who is not wearing the seatbelt can be pulled over and ticketed a minimum of $75. If the passenger is under the age of 16 the driver must pay the seat belt fine. The reason for this, it is common knowledge to a 16 year old (due to the legal driving age) to know about the requirements.

I have spoken at many teen events, middle schools, class rooms and other places doing my best to encourage everyone to always buckle up. Seat belt safety was my platform while competing in the Miss America preliminary scholarship pageants.

I am proud to say that I made an influence on the law change and hope that I have made an impact on others. 

PSA & NOYS!

During the Spring semester of 2010 I had the great opportunity to be a volunteer intern at the National Organization of Youth Safety. NOYS main focus is to encourage teens to drive safely. This means wearing their seat belt, avoid distractions and no texting and driving. One of my duties at NOYS was to create a PSA about Safe Driving Month and the scholarships offered. The PSA was sent to participating schools to inspire teens to create a video about why it is important to drive safe.

Check out the ‘on-set’ photos below!

Redbull Flugtag Pilot ’11

About this time last year my teammates pushed me off of a 3-story high flight deck and I flew 22 feet into the Channelside Bay. Why would I do this? Redbull Flugtag!

The team at set-up night.

Redbull Flugtag is an event that host teams attempting to fly a man-made  aircraft. The event took place in Tampa, Fla., and attracted more than 100,000 people! The Brickhouse Tavern and Tap team applies and was chosen to participate! Tiffany, Sarah, Heather, Tara and I created the design of the aircraft and collaborated with a team of engineers who developed the device!

The event was so much fun!

How did Brickhouse get involved: It all began with 6 gals who were convinced that Flugtag could bring a ton of publicity to the restaurant.

Application: Redbull must screen all applicants. This process required a rough draft of flying machine and reasons as to why the team should be selected to particpate. I created the website that was used for our application process. The video on the sit was filmed by a student who worked at the restaurant.  Check out our website.

Building stiletto : A team of engineers put together the major components of the air craft and the team dazzled it up = D

What was learned :

1. To be on point at all times. This was a very high profile event with media outlets all over the place. As a team member and pilot I was representing Brickhouse Tavern and Tap.

2. Be prepared for interviews. Journalist from all over were covering the event and with that being said, I must have done over 100 interviews. One of the interviews took place on the flight deck just before take off. There was no hint that an interview would take place so last minute.

3. Think fast. The winds were the major concern for the event as they were super strong. This altered original flight plan and caused me to move faster than expected during flight.

Over all the event gave me a glimpse into the word of publicity, brand representation, promoting, public speaking and much more!

Glossophobia? Not Me!

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. The word is Greek, glossa meaning tongue, phobia meaning fear. Studies have shown that the number one fear in America is public speaking. …I am scared of the dark!

I have been comfortable with public speaking ever since I was a little girl. I believe this all steamed from my parents family business Triple J Equine Horse Products. Our family would travel to different rodeos throughout the state of Fla., Tenn., MS and WY. Our family would set up a Triple J booth to sell product. In between my horse shows I would go up and down the arena promoting the company. Keep in mind I was only…. 10 years old. I loved it! This is where my “gift to gab” was formed.

Since then I found myself always volunteering to be the spokesperson in group projects. I even spoke impromptu at congress meetings as a lobbyist and on-stage as a form of competition in pageants. Competing in pageants really taught me impromptu speaking because the question was always a surprise. You had to prepare foe EVERYTHING!

-All of my speeches in my Public Speaking class were impromtu. I had topics and key points in mind but very little memorized.

-Prepared for Strawberry Queen in Plant City, Fla. This is where I learned a large bulk of my interview skills and impromptu. …Because being Strawberry Queen is compared to (in my opinion) Miss America.

-Worked several promotional events!

-Organized fashion shows

-Cold-call sales

-Redbull Flug Tag Pilot 2011 : Brickhouse Tavern and Tap. The moment I realized how much I love public speaking. On the flight deck in-front of over 110,000 people the guy tossed a microphone in-front of me.

Here is a photo of me and the principal of Mann Middle School where I spoke to the 8th grade class about the importance of seatbelt safety and did an interview with local news station (2006)!

Best,

J.J.

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