Growing up in a suburban neighborhood of Harrison, Emily Rankin’s favorite TV show was “Green Acres.” It was a comedy from the 1960s about a fancy New York couple who moves to a country farm.
To this day, she relishes the foibles of Lisa and Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert) living in Hooterville.
“It’s on TV every night,” said Rankin, 28. “It’s my dream one day to own a farm.”
Until that day, the Highlands grad will live vicariously through her newly appointed role of America’s Miss Agribusiness for Pennsylvania.
The pageant / scholarship program runs on “the guiding principles of ‘Growing America’s Future’ and ‘Beauty by Action,’” as described on its website.
Agribusiness queens in each state fulfill a yearlong mission of caring for neighbors, helping solve food insecurity and being a positive role model.
“It has a lot to do with getting the word out about where our food comes from and how it gets to us, and how to reconnect with the land,” Rankin said.
Her first public appearance as Agribusiness Queen was in Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Pittsburgh.
“I’ve never even been to the parade,” she said before attending. “I’m so excited. I bought a shirt that says ‘Irish Queen.’ “
Other platforms will follow across the state throughout the year.
“It’s something that people don’t hear too much about, but it’s a great networking opportunity for me, and I am so excited to have the title,” she said.
Rankin first noticed the program on social media and figured she’d give it a whirl.
“I filled out the application and basically told them my great-grandfather owned a farm in Sarver and that I liked to spend my time outdoors,” she said.
An avid visitor to Freedom Farms in Butler and Pat’s Perfect Produce in Buffalo Township, Rankin said she enjoys learning the gritty details of how food arrives in stores or on tables.
A job at Tractor Supply in Harrison connected her with many people in the farming business and cemented her interest in agriculture.
“On social media, I see farms closing. And it’s my hope to bring awareness to people about how much we really need them to help us live our daily lives, ”she said.
A graduate of Slippery Rock University, Rankin earned her bachelor’s degree in history. She is a Girl Scout leader for Troop 28848.
Rankin said her mom, as a child, was active in the National Grange, the country’s oldest agriculture advocacy group, and made sure to instill similar values in her daughter.
“We didn’t have 4-H or Future Farmers of America at our school, but I was the odd one who liked to go to the Big Butler Fair and see where our meat and produce comes from,” Rankin said.
In her new role, she will promote agriculture across the state by appearing at educational booths at farm shows and participating in community service roles to help feed the hungry.
One of the group’s core roles is to raise awareness that one in six families in the country do not have enough food.
In May, Rankin will travel to Florida to compete in the national contest for Miss Agribusiness.
Her future, in all likelihood, will involve getting her hands dirty, Rankin said with a laugh.
She sees herself as TV’s next Mike Rowe, but instead of “Dirty Jobs,” she will spotlight farming duties and all the muck and minutiae that go into providing food to the masses.
“That would be the best job ever,” she said. “Just going from farm to farm and working for a day at each one.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .