Leah Marek of Riverside was crowned 2021 Iowa Pork queen at a banquet Jan. 26.
Together with Paige Dagel of Sanborn and Reagan Gibson of Panora the tree will make up the 2021 Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team. They were selected from the 11 young Iowans who competed for the honor earlier in the week.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association sponsors the contest, which includes interviews, speech presentations and knowledge of pork and pig production. Their previous community involvement and experience are also considered. The top female contestant is crowned pork queen and the top remaining contestants, male or female, are named youth ambassadors.
Marek, a freshman at Iowa State University, will reign as the 2021 Iowa Pork queen. Dagel and Gibson are pork ambassadors. Each receives a $4,000 scholarship and plaque noting their award. But according to their predecessors, the most valuable things they will gain are the many growth and leadership opportunities provided by these positions.
Over the next year, the IPPA Youth Leadership Team will participate in public activities promoting pork and pig production, from county activities around Iowa to the Iowa State Fair and World Pork Expo.
Leah Marek is the daughter of Timothy and Heather Marek of Riverside. Her family has a long history in pork production in Washington County, with a current focus on raising show pigs. Marek says she has shown pigs since she could walk. That early interest in agriculture led to her involvement with the Global Youth Institute through the World Food Prize. The combination of those interests is seen in Marek’s biology and global resource systems majors at Iowa State.
Paige Dagel, the daughter of Paul and Stacey Dagel of Sanborn, is a freshman at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City pursuing degrees in business and public relations. Dagel says her family’s diversified farm operation, including a pig nursery and finishers is the foundation of her passion for the pork industry.
She had served as the O’Brien County pork queen in 2020 and took the opportunity to learn about more aspects of the pork industry than what she had experience with on her farm.
Reagan Gibson is the daughter of Jim and Karwyn Gibson of Panora, where Reagan is a senior at Panorama High School. While she hasn’t made a final decision on where she will attend college, her career goal is to teach high school ag education.
Her family has a purebred swine operation where Reagan spends time learning more about that business. She is involved with the Iowa Swine Jackpot Series Junior Board of Directors and her school’s FFA chapter. She spends time tutoring elementary students in math and reading.