As the Miss Indiana Pageant approaches, Sara Alford, Miss Huntington 2013, says she is staying busy preparing for the competition.
The Poneto resident was crowned Miss Huntington on March 23.
"I have been brushing up on my interviewing skills and working on my dancing for the talent portion of the show," Alford says. "I'm also shopping for outfits and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to get ready for the swimsuit portion."
She adds that in her role as Miss Huntington, she recently visited the Huntington Optimist Club to thank the group for its support and update them on her preparations for Miss Indiana.
"The Miss Huntington competition did a lot to prepare me for this show," Alford notes. "Sandy (Stephan) and Ruth (Marsh) are two of the best directors in Indiana. They have been great with setting up mock interviews for me and I definitely could not have done any of this by myself."
She adds that she is excited about the competition and the opportunity to advance awareness of her platform, "Sustainable Agriculture: Improve Ag Today, End Hunger Tomorrow."
Alford currently attends Purdue University where she is pursuing her master's degree in agronomy. Throughout high school, she participated in 4-H and FFA and even captured the crown of Miss Wells County in 2010 and Miss Indiana State Fair Queen in 2011.
"My platform stems from the career field that I'm going into," she says. "There are a few things that I would like to see happen that would help to raise awareness to sustainable agriculture.
Alford's ideas include an Ag Day for elementary students, where they could learn about where their food comes from.
"I would also like to talk to students in different FFA and 4-H chapters and give them more information on sustainable agriculture and the current efforts," she says. "Another idea that I would have to get permission for and do some more research on is a program titled ‘Women in Agriculture.'"
Alford adds that her career goal is to work as a certified agronomist or for Purdue Extension, helping farmers to achieve maximum yield with the least amount of resources.
"I think the Miss Indiana competition will help in a lot of areas," she adds. "I will be able to gain new skills, brush up on old ones, and fine tune my interviewing and public speaking skills."
Alford says her main goal at Miss Indiana is to have fun and enjoy the experience.
"Of course I would love to win," she notes. "But I'm really excited to meet the other girls, I've met a few already. And I hope to create new friendships and maybe even a few lifelong friends.
The Miss Indiana and Miss Indiana's Outstanding Teen competition will be held Wednesday, June 19, through Saturday, June 22, at the Zionsville Performing Arts Center, in Zionsville.
Supporters can vote for their favorite contestant through Wednesday, June 19, at 11:59 p.m., for a fee by visiting www.indiana  pageant.com/peo pleschoice/peopleschoice.php.
The People's Choice winner will be named the 12th finalist in the Miss Indiana show or the 11th finalist in the Miss Indiana Outstanding Teen show.
Tickets are available for purchase online at www.missindianapageant.com . Also available online is the opportunity to submit a question, which may be used during the interview portion of the show.