Miss Kentucky Alex Francke: Finding New Ways to Complete Her MissionPosted on Jul 1, 2020
In what has turned out to be an unusual year, the current Miss Kentucky has found new ways to complete her mission.
Since 1935, there has been a Miss Kentucky pageant held every year (with the exception of the World War II years). That changed, however, for the 2020 pageant due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And while the idea of missing a year is very disappointing to so many young women who have worked hard in hopes of being a part of this prestigious event, the reigning Miss Kentucky, Alex Francke, will now have the honor of being the first winner ever to serve for two consecutive years.
“When I found out, I had mixed feelings about it knowing how much work goes into preparing for the Miss Kentucky pageant,” she said. “I feel for those young ladies who will have to wait another year, but I am blessed to be able to continue on for another year in this role that I love so much.”
As Miss Kentucky, Francke said one of her responsibilities is that of spokesperson for the Kentucky Proud label, through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA).
“Since about 2000, Miss Kentucky has been an official spokesperson with KDA, and I absolutely love my job,” she said. “It has enabled me to go and visit all of the schools and do my entire school tour talking to children about the agriculture industry and the goodness of fresh, locally grown foods.”
While some members of her family have farming backgrounds, Francke said she was definitely surprised by how little she actually understood about the scope of the agriculture industry.
“It's so much more than just farm production and food production,” she said. “In my role of working with so many of our Kentucky Proud partners, it has been so cool to see just how much agriculture affects everyday life. And to meet kids who are excelling in 4H, and FFA, and really just making a future for themselves in the world of agriculture, it's been really inspiring to me.”
Unfortunately, her school tours were cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but Francke doesn’t focus on the negative side of the situation.
“I got to talk to thousands of students-- tens of thousands of students-- about the importance of Kentucky agriculture, and buying local foods, and taking care of one another,” she said. “It was really a dream come true.”
Like so many others who have been staying home in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Francke has been doing the same. But she has not slowed down on her agricultural work.
“Being quarantined has certainly shifted my year of service more than I thought it would, and I have tried to find lots of new and innovative ways to continue connecting with students, and sharing information about agriculture and agriculture education,” she said. “So, I actually started a video series, of which I am the director, and writer, and producer, and costumer and editor. I have done it all. It's called "Miss Kentucky Proud," kind of a play on Kentucky Proud and Miss Kentucky.”
The video series touches on many agri-related topics from doing ag-science experiments at home, to something called the Ag Aspirations Virtual Career Fair series in which Francke interviews different people from a variety of agricultural occupations.
“I'm trying to do everything I can to continue serving the ag community,” she said. “Even if I am stuck at home, I can utilize all of my marketing skills, and my digital media skills that I learned in college.”
Francke recently graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Business Management, and with the scholarship money she has earned as Miss Kentucky, she said graduate school is a possibility. But whatever she does, her passion for interacting with young people will undoubtedly be a part of it.
“I absolutely love children, and think they are amazing because they just have so much curiosity, they have such a passion for life and excitement,” she said. “It has been a great opportunity to go out to schools and talk to kids about the importance of taking care of yourself, setting yourself up for success by putting good things in your body, like farm fresh foods, fruits and vegetables, as well as setting goals for yourself and treating others with respect and kindness to make our communities better places to live.”
Francke also got to spread her mission, “Adopt an Art,” which is a non-profit that she started to connect kids in schools to art resources and mentors.
“Just to show kids that hey, even if you're not planning on being a professional actor or a professional tuba player, being a part of the arts can benefit you, and will benefit you, in the long run,” she said. “I got to spread all kinds of positivity, and love and encouragement to students who may have needed it more than I ever could have known.
KFB Farming Footnote
Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) is one of the many sponsors that participate in the Miss Kentucky Scholarship Foundation program. KFB President Mark Haney said supporting such a worthy organization ultimately helps to bring important information about agriculture to people across the state.
“In seeing the great job Alex, and many other Miss Kentucky winners, have done in getting the word out about agriculture, we are proud to support such a program and look forward to the contributions Alex will make to our industry as she continues to serve in this role for another year,” he said.