Mikaela Bruer says she is using her title as Miss Oregon Teen USA to educate and inspire young people about agriculture.
The 17-year-old from Dallas, Ore., competed in the Miss Teen USA pageant in Las Vegas, Nev., on July 29-30 where she placed 16th.
Though most contestants returned home and began winding down from the chaos of the national pageant, Bruer started prepping to show her goats, dairy cows, market steer and alpacas at the Polk County Fair on Aug. 11.
Bruer lives on her family property that was started by her great-great-grandfather. Her dream is to study veterinary medicine at Cornell University and become a large-animal veterinarian that specializes in dairy animals.
Bruer said she has a deep love for animals and pageantry and she loves being an example of how the two can go together.
In addition to being Miss Oregon Teen USA and competing in pageants, Bruer is in 4-H, FFA and is a model and a competitive golfer and archer. She maintains above a 4.0 grade-point average.
She said she uses her position in the spotlight to break down stereotypes about the agriculture industry and pageantry and show how the things she does overlap.
“Pageantry and agriculture both have stereotypes that go with them,” Bruer said. “I want to show people no matter which side of the spectrum you’re on, they can go together.”
Bruer got her start in 4-H when she was 9 years old, following her mother, Denise McCormick, who raised sheep when growing up.
She started with horticulture and cooking but quickly fell in love with animals and got her first Norwegian dwarf goats when she was 12.
Her start in pageants was less conventional. McCormick said she started Bruer in pageants when she was 6 to encourage her out of her shell and get used to public speaking and making connections.
“I was painfully shy when I was a kid,” McCormick said. “I just wanted to start her young and teach her to be more outgoing.”
Bruer started going to one pageant a year but quickly fell in love with pageantry and began traveling the world to compete and model.
Her realization that she wanted to work with dairy animals came when she was staying with a host family that ran a dairy farm when she was competing in New Zealand. She had the opportunity to work on the farm.
“I came home and straight away begged my mom to get a dairy cow,” Bruer said. ”There’s just something I love about them.”
Bruer is able to travel the world and dedicate her time to pageantry and her animals with the help of Oregon Connections Academy, an online public school that gives her the flexibility to make her own schedule.
Going into her senior year of high school, Bruer said she is starting to look at small colleges near her home so she can still be close to her animals.
From demonstrating her goat call to pageant judges during interviews to wearing her FFA jacket over her formal dress, Bruer said she takes every chance she can to tell people what FFA is and why she loves animals.
“I want to show people that I can fly off to New York and wear a pair of stilettos and then come home and put on my muck boots and go be with my animals,” Bruer said.