Atascadero FFA president represents agriculture industry in Monterey County
NORTH COUNTY — One local student is promoting the agriculture industry through the Miss United States Agriculture pageant.
Atascadero FFA President Jewels Ryan is representing Monterey County as a 2023 Miss United States Agriculture. The nationwide program started in 2014 to encourage women in agriculture to teach and enhance American agriculture. Since the program’s launch, young women and girls of all ages have been advocating for agriculture with their crown.
“Our platform is we are truly a pageant with a purpose and that we are giving back through life-changing experiences. We are a positive advocate for agriculture,” explained Ryan, who applied for the program in November of 2022.
Ryan found the program after wanting to do more for the agriculture community. The senior at Atascadero High School was inspired to join FFA during her freshman year by her mother, Libby Ryan of Just Baked in Paso Robles, who was an FFA member when she was in high school.
Since San Luis Obispo County already had a crowned Miss Agriculure for 2023, Ryan applied to represent Monterey County. To be considered for her position, Ryan had to share what she does as a woman in the agriculture industry, how she wants to improve it, and how she participates in the community.
“It’s an organization that advocates for agriculture,” explained Ryan. “And it’s women in agriculture who are wanting to see a change for the next generations to come.”
Since earning her title, Ryan has been using her sash and crown to draw attention to agriculture at various events. She says the young students see her as a princess and are drawn to her — this was proven when she wore her crown and sash at a recent ag day her FFA chapter held for local students.
Ryan will be graduating from AHS this June and heading to Montana State University. She plans to major in agriculture business and minor in political science. When previously visiting MSU, Ryan met another student there with the same majors who was working towards becoming a lawyer for migrant farm workers.
Ryan was inspired to follow the same path after hearing experiences from some migrant workers.
“I never thought that they needed help talking about their feelings,” she said.
Following graduation, Ryan has goals to open her own firm on the Central Coast, in a state that is a leader in the agriculture industry.
“I want to help them feel more comfortable farming for America and have their voices be heard on what they want to see change in the agriculture industry,” Ryan said.
Until those goals become her reality, Ryan will be advocating for agriculture in Monterey County and locally. She is hoping to compete in a pageant in December for the 2024 SLO County title and eventually compete in the national pageant held in Alabama.
Ryan looks forward to her new responsibilities, representing the agriculture industry.
“I can’t wait to go to Monterey, attend these agriculture events, and teach the younger generations why agriculture is important,” she said.