World Class American Royalty Magazine would like to welcome amazing Queen Jenita Derga Mrs South Dakota America 2023.
Full Name: Jenita Derga
Title/Year: Mrs South Dakota America 2023
Pageant System: Mrs America Inc.
Education Level: Bachelor's Degree
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Hobbies: Singing, Working out, Hunting, Fishing, Riding Horses, Flower Gardening, Teaching and practicing yoga, Playing Guitar, Traveling, Listening to books on tape.
Platform: Grassland Stewardship, Preservation, and Reclamation
Years competed: 1
Countries visited: Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Belize
Likes: Dancing, Fashion, Travel, Wine, Unique Food, Holistic Healthcare, Massages, Fall (But not pumpkin spice), Laughing, Learning from others, Genuinely nice people, Christian fellowship, Cowboy boots, remote camping, swimming, cooking, small towns
Dislikes: Watermelon, tomatoes, being rushed, washing my hair, people who are not self aware, people who don't follow etiquette on airplanes, mice or any rodents (I don't understand how people have these as pets), know it all type of people, liars
World Class American Royalty Magazine: Please tell us about yourself.
I’m a 4th generation ranch girl, brought up on a ranch in central Nebraska. I’m one of 5 daughters that my parents were blessed with. Family is very important to me and I have been blessed with the best family I could have asked for. I have a strong Christian faith and have done my best to devote my life to the calling set forth for me by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My deepest love lies with the open prairies that I was raised on. Some may look at open prairie and see a whole lot of “nothing”, but in my experience beautiful things don't have to ask for attention.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: Please tell us about your education.
After high school I set out to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Rangeland Ecology with a minor in Water Resources Management. I earned that degree from Chadron State College in 2012. My first 2 years of college I competed on the rodeo team in women’s breakaway roping and team roping. I also took time while in college to be involved in student activities like Student Senate, where I served as the parliamentarian, as well as Ag Club, student activities committee, and 2 different study abroad trips. One such trip was to Alaska. While there I learned about Alaska’s agriculture industry and was able to volunteer at the annual Iditarod dog race as a dog handler. The other trip was to Argentina to learn about Argentina’s agriculture. While there we visited many farming and ranching operations, and were also able to learn what Argentina is doing for research and conservation of grasslands. To this day I would say that Argentina is my favorite country I have visited.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What does women Empowerment mean to you?
To me women's empowerment is something that looks different for every woman. That is what I think is so special about us as humans. We can each find power and purpose in completely different situations. The very term of “women’s empowerment” is possessive in nature, meaning that each woman gets to have her own definition. For me I feel empowered when I'm able to help others see their potential in life. For another woman she may feel empowered as she raises her children and watches them start their own lives. And yet another woman may feel empowered by completing college or having a professional career. I think that the take away for “women’s empowerment” is that every woman may know deep within herself that all the things that she desires can be hers.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: Tell us about your pageant history.
My pageant history is rather short. Growing up on a ranch in central Nebraska, rodeo and horses were a large part of my life. When I was a junior in high school I had the honor of competing and being crowned Madison County Fair and Rodeo Queen. Rodeo Queen pageants are similar to other pageants, but one difference is that you have a horsemanship portion where you are judged on how well you ride and handle your horse. Other categories include, interview, and appearance.
I found out about Mrs pageantry after a former Mrs South Dakota’s instagram profile came up on my feed and I started following her. Before that I had no idea that there was a world of pageants where married women north of age 26 could compete. I had only known of pageants like Miss America and Miss USA. The more I learned about Mrs America Inc and their respective state title holders, the more my desire grew to possibly compete.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What inspired you to do your first pageant?
I think what inspired me to compete initially was my desire to have a platform to spread more awareness about the things that matter to me. As a woman who’s passion and career are tied to rural agricultural communities, I felt like I had something to say about what goes on out here. About how resilient our communities are and especially about how there are amazing women in the agricultural industry that are making a way for themselves and their family for many generations in an industry that is largely male dominated.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: Why did you choose to compete for your current title?
I chose to compete for Mrs South Dakota because I wanted the opportunity to represent my state and all the incredible women that live here. South Dakota has some amazing women, most recently notable are women like our Governor Kristi Noem. I wanted to be able to have a seat at that table and represent my state in the best possible way.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: To those unfamiliar with your pageant system please tell us what is it about?
The Mrs America System is about women having the chance to make a difference in the world. All the state title holders have platforms that they are passionate about. One thing that I really respect about all of the state title holders in my class is that they are all doing work within their platform whether or not they have a title. They are truly amazing women. Mrs. America Inc.’s national platform is Victoria's Voice Foundation. Victoria's Voice is an extremely active organization that is fighting our country's opioid crisis, and spreading awareness about resources and emergency medications that can reverse overdoses.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What makes your director different from others?
My Director is the one and only Jackie Siegel, Queen Of Versailles. Jackie happens to be the founder of the Victoria’s Voice Foundation along with her husband David. Jackie and her team have been wonderful to me as a title holder. Jackie is a fighter for those close to her and she cares deeply about people. She created an entire organization in honor of her daughter who tragically passed away from an overdose. She’s working daily to raise awareness about opioids in hopes of sparing just one family from the loss that she and David endured with the passing of their daughter. Jackie is very genuine and cares deeply about her ladies. She's generous and kind and she has made my time as Mrs South Dakota very enjoyable.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What are you being judged on during the competition?
We are judged during 3 pageant events. Interview, Swimwear, and evening gown. There are also special awards for Mrs Congeniality, Fitness, Best Costume, and Photogenic.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: Tell us about your experience during the competition.
The National pageant was a really great experience. Tiring, but great. I was there for 10 days at the Westgate Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. We spent a lot of time in rehearsals leading up to the pageant finals. We also had the opportunity to attend a Las Vegas show, have a private cocktail party in the penthouse suite that Elvis lived in during his residency in Las Vegas, as well as several formal dinner parties with our pageant sponsors and Victoria's Voice Foundation. I brought 6 evening gowns with me and I wore them all. It was so much fun.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: Who would you recommend your system to?
I would recommend this system to anyone who is looking for a great pageant experience and loves the glitz and glam of a traditional pageant.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: Tell us about your platform or what cause do you volunteer for.
My Platform is all about serving the people that are living and working on America's grasslands. The tall grass prairie is North America’s most endangered ecosystem yet you dont hear about it in the new or on the latest planet earth special narrated by David Attenborough. As a passionate grassland ecologist, and advocate for family ranchers, I am a member and supporter of the South Dakota Grassland Coalition. I have been an instructor at their three annual grazing schools since 2019. This year, I was chosen to help our neighbors, the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition, start a similar grazing school in their state. I have been blessed to work with amazing organizations like The South Dakota Grassland Coalition, and work to empower ranching families and grass managers across the state. Our underlying foundation is the security and preservation of grassland ecosystems across the state but not in the way of non use. We believe that grass managers equipped with the right skills in grazing management can increase the viability of grassland ecosystems. This keeps working lands working, addresses the topic of carbon sequestration, enhances or heals a broken water cycle, and offers a way of life for rural South Dakotans that would otherwise not be possible.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What appearances have you done with your title?
As Mrs South Dakota I have been able to attend events like, South Dakota Cattlemen's Prime Time Gala, an event that fundraises for the organization “Feeding South Dakota.” The cattlemen provide quality beef for the organization's food security programs across the state. I am honored to be involved in activities with the Grassland Coalition like their 3 annual grazing schools, and numerous pasture walks and educational events throughout the year. I have been a guest judge at the Sully County fair rib and chili cook off. I attended the annual Fall Festival and pumpkin patch, and most recently, had a singing performance in our state capitol for Christmas accompanied by the Silver City Symphony Orchestra.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What are some of your achievements?
Achievements are always a topic that I find hard to talk about. There are things that I hold high achievements but maybe others would not see their value like I do. I think that its important to keep our personal achievements in our minds and not get to hung up on the amount of awards and accolades with out name on it. So the following are things that I’m proud of and hold high on my personal list of “achievements”. I’m very proud of the life that I choose to live, as well as my upbringing in a rural community. I may live 150 miles from a Target but my community has so much more to offer than a department store. As someone who lived most of their life with an unhealthy relationship with food, and exercise, I’m very proud that I made lasting changes to my life in 2016 and everyday that I get in a workout in is an achievement, not to mention having the confidence to get on a national stage for Mrs America in a swimsuit. I’m very proud to be a capable woman with people around me that encourage and push me to do great things. Lastly, I'm very proud to be my husband's wife. Justin is the man that I had worried didn't exist. The achievement that I will work toward most diligently for the rest of my life is to be the best wife I possibly can for him.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What makes you stand out from all those other beautiful girls?
I think that I stand out from other girl because not only do I enjoy the glitz and the glam of pageants, but I also enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. I spend most of my days in jeans and boots out on the land working with ranchers. I grew up on a ranch and spent more time on a horse's back than on my own 2 feet most days. I will always be a cowgirl, and take the cowgirl spirit with me wherever I go. I pride myself in being capable and hardworking no matter how dirty the job is. I enjoy hunting and fishing and can clean my own game before I whip it up for a delicious meal. I love that I can be both a country girl that is comfortable in jeans and boots as well as a woman that enjoys doing full glam hair and makeup and putting on a ballgown. All of those things are a part of me, and create unique opportunities to connect with people in completely different ways. That's really what we all long for in life. To form connections with people that make us feel “known” in this huge world. Being a multifaceted woman gives me an increased opportunity to offer that connection to those around me.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: Tell us about the moment your name was called out as the winner.
I was so honored to be selected. I was really speechless for a few minutes then I started thinking “Now the real work begins.”
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What does it mean to you to be a Beauty Queen?
Being a beauty queen to me means that you are representing something larger than yourself. Some people may think that having the sash and crown can be somewhat selfish, but to me this title is not at all about me. It’s about South Dakota, and representing my state in a way that is honorable and genuine, and doing the work in my community and state that needs done. It’s also about representing the Mrs America organization, and being sure that I am furthering the reach of the sisterhood with each thing I do as a title holder. I have the opportunity to reach people far beyond what I would be able to on my own, and for that I am forever grateful to do this work.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: How did competing in pageants helped your life?
I’ve talked about connections a lot in this interview and I really think that is what pageants gave me that has helped my life most. Before pageants I will admit that i wasnt that best at generating connections with people. I would kind of stand to the side and wait for people to come to me. Something about having that sash and crown on gave me the power to reach out and form connections with people, and those connections have enhanced my life so much.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: How did pageants helped your selfesteem and body image?
I mentioned before that I made some major lifestyle changes in 2016 that have resulted in my walking around in a much healthier body and mind. But one thing that I continue to remind myself is that my body is just my body. It’s not good or bad, its just part of me. This body has carried me through my life regardless of how it looked and continues to do so everyday. Reminding myself of that has helped my self esteem. Knowing that how my body looks does not affect my morality (whether I’m good or bad) has been a huge boost to my self esteem. My body is the least interesting thing about me and I’m so proud of that.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: You are an inspiration to all the girls out there. How does it feel?
If I can inspire girls in any way it is my hope that through looking at my journey, that they believe that they can do whatever they want in this world, and do so without apologizing. If their desire is to be a CEO, they can do it. If they desire to be a stay at home mom, they can do it. If they desire to hunt their own game to feed themselves or their family, they can do it. Whether they desire to do all of the things or none of the things, they can do it. They don't have to be everything to everyone but whatever they choose to be they can be, and they don't have to apologize for that.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What is your on stage strategy to win the judges over?
Smile big, show confidence, relax your hands. ;)
World Class American Royalty Magazine: How did you prepare for your competition?
I prepared by working with the one and only Rebakah Wheeler pageant coach, and real life Barbie. She was Barbie before Barbie was cool and she has been wonderful for all things pageant prep. She helped me line up 2 different mock interviews, as well as facetime calls for wardrobe prep, helped me draft my nationals paperwork and helped me with my walk.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What are your tips for learning better pageant walk?
Strong core. Standup straight, and touch the tips of your fingers to your thighs as you walk to keep your hands relaxed.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What are your tips for choosing right pageant dress?
Go Shopping at Tres Jolie in Oklahoma City with Rebakah Wheeler. Haha. I’m so serious but if you don't have that option, I would recommend choosing something that makes you feel beautiful, and don't skip on the sparkle. Probably most important is to choose something that you can afford. No one needs to be going into debt to get noticed on stage. Our current Mrs America Regina Stock won wearing an off the rack Jovani dress and she looked beautiful. You don't need an extravagant custom dress to win a title. I bought over half of my gowns for Mrs America week on facebook resale. It was actually kind of fun. I named each of the gowns after the person that I bought the gown from and I was kind of like they were on the journey with me.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What are your tips for winning interview?
Slow down. A confident woman takes her time. Keep answers to 45 seconds. Don't feel like you have to explain everything during the interview. You should leave the judges wanting to know more.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What is one mistake that you've done during competing you wish you could redo and fix it?
So in my interview for Mrs America I was asked alot about my platform and my career so I don't think I was able to really show my whole personality. If I could do it over I would have tried to steer the conversion to other topics so the judges could have gotten to know me better.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What other mistakes are made by girls during the contest?
One thing that I’ve seen some contestants do is imitate the current title holder. I think that we can learn from current title holders but the judges are looking for the contestant that is the best version of themselves, not the best version of the current title holder. So just be yourself. It’s far more rewarding that way anyway.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: Any modeling or acting experience?
I once played the wicked stepmother in Cinderella for my highschool play and got an outstanding performance award at our district competition. ;)
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What are your plans for 2023 as a Queen?
I get to carry this title until April 2024 and I’m planning to live it up until then. I’m planning to go and support our Mrs America at the Mrs World Pageant in January, as well as have some plans to travel internationally in February.
World Class American Royalty Magazine: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
When someone thinks of me I would like for them to think “She did the hard work. She always believed she could achieve anything. She may have gotten tired but she never gave up. She cared deeply for those around her and was a voice for those who needed one. She may not have moved the stars from their appointed courses, but she loved a good man, and she rode good horses.”
International Director: Tana Johnson
National Director: Tana Johnson
Your Local Director: Jackie Siegel
Pageant website: www.mrsamerica.com
Name of the Photographer and other credits Captured Moments by Bailey M
Also Thank your sponsors…
Oppidan Investment Company
Joe Ryan Family
Rodney Sather Muddy Boot Land Company
First Dakota Bank
A List Salon
Pure Medical Aesthetics
KC Creations Photography
McCain Farms Randy and Lise McCain
Rankin Ranches Rick and Michelle Rankin
Nate and Renee Graf
First National Bank Pierre
AK Creations Tack & Trailer Sales
Chance and Jentry Hobrock
Tim and Ashley Sprank
Kylee and Haizen Larsen
Ky and Jayna Iwanski
PJ and Patti Panzer
World Class American Royalty Magazine would like to say thank you for this wonderful interview.
Jenita Derga Mrs South Dakota America 2023, World Class American Royalty Magazine, Photo by Captured Moments by Bailey M
Interview by Derek Tokarzewski
Owner/Editor in Chief
Mr WorldClass 2023
Mr United Nations 2018
Platform: Women Empowerment