On June 20-23, Calli Pritchard will take a break from her family's cattle farm near Brookings, SD, and will head West to Hot Springs, SD for the 2012 Miss South Dakota Contest. Although she's ditching her cowgirl boots for high heels, Pritchard, a former South Dakota Beef Ambassador, isn't leaving her country roots behind. As she competes in the talent, swimsuit and evening gown portions of the contest, Pritchard's platform is "Be BOLD and ZIP into a healthy lifestyle," in the on-stage question-and-interview sections of the competition.
The "ZIP" part of Pritchard's platform refers to the zinc, iron and protein found in healthy beef, while "BOLD" refers to a new study called "Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet" (BOLD). Published in December's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study revealed diets that included lean beef every day are as effective in lowering total and LDL (bad) cholesterol as the gold standard of heart-healthy diets.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University evaluated adults with moderately elevated cholesterol levels, measuring the impact of diets including varying amounts of lean beef on total and LDL cholesterol levels. Study participants experienced a 10 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol while consuming diets containing 4.0 to 5.4 ounces of lean beef daily.
"Beef is a part of my beauty routine as I am preparing to be on stage in gowns and a swimsuit in front of hundreds of people," Pritchard said. "Staying healthy is key when you are competing in the Miss South Dakota pageant system. Beef provides my daily required nutrients and supports my busy lifestyle. They say the West wasn't won on salad, but a salad with grilled tri-tip is one amazing meal to get me prepared for Miss South Dakota!"
The contest is just over a month away and Pritchard is busy preparing and studying up on the benefits of beef.
"The best way to prepare for every component of the pageant is to practice, practice, practice," she said. "I have been working with the South Dakota Cattlemen's Auxiliary, South Dakota Beef Industry Council and South Dakota Cattlewomen's Association, attending events to promote my platform. Working with these organizations is allowing me to stay up-to-date on everything going on within the beef industry. Serving as Miss James River Valley, I am determined to serve at as many events as I possibly can."
Pritchard will make an appearance at Huset's Speedway on May 28 for the seventh annual Beef Night at the Races. The event is hosted by the South Dakota Cattlemen's Auxiliary and the state's beef producers and is supported by the beef checkoff program. In addition, she will attend the South Dakota BBQ Championship, June 1-2 in Huron, SD.
Beef and beauty pageants seems like an odd mix, and Pritchard gets asked about combining the two often. She explained why she enjoys being part of both worlds:
"My dad tells a story to explain my love of both cattle and pageants perfectly," she said. "One afternoon, my family and I were working calves, and of course, we had a sneaky calf that got away without his time with the veterinarian. Dad and I then went and caught the calf in the middle of the pasture, held the calf until the veterinarian was ready to vaccinate him and of course, I had landed in manure but hadn't noticed. A little over an hour after this ordeal, I was in a pink tutu performing a ballet dance at the Brookings Relay for Life. I have never been an ordinary girl; I love being dad's ranch hand along with mom's little ballerina.
"The fact that combining cattle and pageants is odd is exactly why I am doing this," she added. "I want to promote the beef industry to an audience that isn't necessarily familiar with animal agriculture. This is one audience that needs education by someone within the industry. I am incredibly excited for the interview portion to see what the judges' opinions are of the beef industry, as well as the agricultural industry as a whole. Overall, I am a girl that feels just as comfortable in cowboy boots and a dirty old baseball cap as I do in an evening gown and five-inch heels."
Aside from being busy with cattle chores and pageants, Pritchard has an internship with Pfizer Animal Health this summer. In the fall she will be a senior at South Dakota State University where is she studying animal science and agriculture communications, leadership and business.