SOLON- Despite a stifling heat wave, Rebecca Haugland remained calm, cool and collected as she captured the crown on the outdoor fairgrounds stage last week in Iowa City. Rebecca showed poise, leadership qualities and communication skills that were judged to be a cut above the rest.
Haugland was crowned Johnson County Fair Queen for 2012 and will take the stage in Des Moines for a chance at the state title. She’ll be representing her hometown 4-H club, Macbride’s Pride in Solon, at the state fair contest beginning Aug. 9, where she’ll introduce herself to the rest of the state.
Pageantry aside, Haugland is rural Solon’s girl-next-door, but she definitely went to a different school than most kids. Rebecca, with her brother and sister, are homeschooled students.
Rebecca’s mother, Lisa, works part-time and now, with Rebecca off to college, instructs her two youngest, Rachel, 15, and Jonathan, 12.
Homeschooled since kindergarten, the kids work their way through textbooks and find elective projects for study.
Rebecca said home schooling suited her, but might not be for everyone.
“I’m a hands-on learner,” she said. Learning at her own speed allowed her to focus on the things that really interested her. Eventually, she was called to agricultural sciences. Her biggest dream is to start a learning farm because, she said, “people don’t know where their food comes from.” She hopes her future farm will teach the “effects of agriculture on everyday life.”
4-H is a big part of the Haugland family life. Rebecca’s mom is the club leader for Macbride’s Pride and all three Haugland kids complete dozens of 4-H projects each year.
Starting with rabbits in fourth grade, Rebecca has taken up dog obedience, rabbits, chickens, and scores of other 4-H pursuits.
Watching the county queens crowned year after year, Rebecca said she “always wanted to be on the stage (to compete with them).”
“I went up there to have fun, experience it, have a great time and meet the other girls,” she said.
Part of the queen competition included answering a randomly-drawn fishbowl question– Haugland said much of the contest depended on how well and quickly you think on your feet.
In Des Moines, she’ll sit down for personal interviews with judges, as well as introduce herself onstage with 98 other Iowa girls.
Haugland gave credit to her 4-H experience for her fair victory.
She highlighted her role as youth council president from the 10th to 12th grade and said her time as a 4-Her helped her develop public speaking skills, gave her confidence to overcome shyness, and “a greater understanding of community service and how I can impact the world around me.”
4-H has also had a great impact on her life. “It’s made me the person I am today,” she said.
There’s no talent portion to the contest, but Rebecca is a gifted scholar and performer in her own right.
She was twice an officer for the Vanguard Home School Honor Society; sang with the FLIGHT Home School Choir; and danced with the Maolisa Irish Step Dance Troupe until 2011 after taking years of dance lessons.
She’s also working two part-time jobs this summer.
One is at a farm supply store and the other is inspecting crops for pest and disease. The jobs are right in line with her agricultural future.
Haugland will start at Kirkwood Community College this fall, later transferring to Iowa State University for an agriculture science degree.
Rebecca is the daughter of Brett and Lisa Haugland. They moved to Solon in 2001 after living in Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.