WASHINGTON — Having grown up around pigs her whole life, it was only fitting Gracie Greiner, of Washington, be crowned the Iowa State Pork Queen in January 2019. As her year long reign begins to come to a close, she reflects on all the opportunities she has experienced.
In December 2018, she sent in her application for the Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team Contest. The team is sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association and made up of the Pork Queen and two ambassadors who travel around the state.
After being crowned the queen during the Iowa Pork Congress in January, Greiner immediately got to work, she said.
“Right after the Iowa Pork Congress there was a swine judging contest at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. So the next day, right after I got elected, I went to my first event and helped out with that,” she said.
While there, Greiner said she helped collect cards, move pigs and help with the organization process. It was a very hands on experience, she said, and was just the beginning of the kid’s days, barbecue battles and various county fairs she attended.
The biggest event of the summer was the Iowa State Fair, she said. She helped work in the pork tent and in the animal learning center display as well as passed out ribbons and helped getting pigs into the ring.
One of the most memorable experiences for Greiner was helping a sow give birth. She said she was standing near the pigs when she noticed one needed assistance giving birth but the veterinarian had walked away.
She said she put on a pair of scrubs, jumped in the pen with the pig and lent her a helping hand. She didn’t even have time to take off her crown.
Having assisted with this process several times on her own farm, Greiner said she didn’t think twice about helping out. Being a young person in the pork industry, she said she felt it was important to step up and set a positive example.
Throughout her time at the fair, she said she had several younger people come up to her and ask her questions. She was glad to be able to talk to them and give them her perspective and encouragement because they are the future of the industry.
“They came up and wanted to interact and I feel like having somebody younger is more relatable to them and they are able to come to me and ask questions without being scared. It was really cool to talk to a lot of younger kids that are in our industry that are going to become the next generation and help them understand,” she said.
Continuing to educate people on the pork industry is a passion of Greiner’s and one she took all the way to Washington, D.C. over the summer. She said she and the two ambassadors flew out for the National Capital BBQ Battle.
While there, Greiner said the team talked to people about how to cook the meat, about the industry and about her role in the pork world. She called it an eye opening experience saying being from Iowa, pork is just part of her life. But for folks in Washington, D.C., they are not as familiar with the meat.
“When we go out to Washington, D.C., they don’t see this everyday. They don’t see everything (because) they’re not in the production practice. It was really interesting to hear all their questions and see how interested they were in us because they had never really experienced something like that before,” she said.
As her time on the council begins to come to a close, Greiner said looking back, the one big take away for her was to jump at every opportunity.
“We had so many opportunities to go to events and I tried to make it to everything. Because I was elected into this position, I felt like I needed to go and be wholeheartedly in it,” she said. “That’s something I do with everything I’m involved in: do everything I can to try and get the best experience.”