Dowagiac resident named 2021 Cass County Miss Agriculture USA Queen

DOWAGIAC — Shaelyn Bundy is doing her best to put Cass County agriculture on the map.

The Dowagiac native was recently named 2021 Cass County Miss Agriculture USA.

“I’ve been raising my animals while going to college,” Bundy said. “Life was hectic because I was juggling six classes at the time. Being able to win and represent my county was exciting.”

Miss Agriculture USA is a national nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting agriculture through queens of all ages by celebrating, promoting, and educating all of the diverse aspects of agriculture.

With the competition being virtual, Bundy will receive a crown and a customized sash in the mail. This was not Bundy’s first time experiencing royalty, having been named Cass County Fair Queen in 2018.

“Michigan is one of only five states offering a virtual competition in light of COVID-19,” Bundy said. “I sent in my application, and they review it and decide who will represent the county the best.”

A dual-enrolled student with Southwestern Michigan College’s partnership with Michigan State University’s Institute of Agriculture Technology, Bundy was encouraged to compete by her friend and classmate Andrea Lee, who was recently crowned Miss Agriculture USA 2020 representing Rhode Island.

“Michigan had a queen when she applied,” Bundy said. “But the leaders of the organization liked her application and asked her to be a queen for Rhode Island.”

Bundy plans to compete for the Miss Michigan Agriculture USA crown in spring 2021 with the opportunity to continue to the National Miss Agriculture USA Competition that will be hosted in Ohio in June 2021.

She aims to use her platform to promote Cass County agriculture by visiting farms across the county.

“My biggest thing is that I want to break stereotypes that come with agriculture,” Bundy said. “There’s this stigma that people born and raised on a farm aren’t intelligent people. I want people to realize that’s not the case and that we wouldn’t have what we have today in society without agriculture. When I found out I could do this program, I wanted to highlight Cass County. With this reign, I’m gonna make the most of it. I want to find as many farms as possible willing to let me come out and highlight the work they’re doing.”

For Bundy, agriculture has always been an important aspect of her life. Her agricultural interests include dairy feeders, market hogs, draft horses, and market chickens. An 11-year member of 4-H, she enjoys growing her own produce and helping younger 4-H members.

“My dad was involved in 4-H,” Bundy said. “I’ve been around agriculture for almost 16 years, now. I’ve raised pigs and chickens for shows, bred rabbits and have worked with plants in greenhouses.”

While a student at Dowagiac Union High School, Bundy knew she wanted to pursue a degree in agriculture after signing up for the agriculture and natural resources program at the Van Buren Tech Center in Lawrence, Michigan.

The two-year program included different aspects of plant science, animal science, and natural resource concepts, as well as concepts related to floral design, veterinary science, production agriculture, landscape management, wildlife management, and more.

“[Dowagiac High School] paid for it,” Bundy said. “I was involved with Future Farmers of America through that program. It really exploded my love for agriculture.”

Bundy is studying agriculture business at Southwestern Michigan College/Michigan State University. With her final year of school approaching, she is looking into online colleges that offer degrees in animal science to pair with her agriculture business degree.

“When I got to SMC, agricultural operations was the plan,” Bundy said. “I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I ended up switching to agriculture business, a good major to have because there are so many job opportunities that come with it. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do.”

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