Are You Serious? A Pageant?

That is exactly what Lily Jones, Miss Montana Teen Volunteer 2023, talked to me about. Lily is the daughter of Justin and Tammy Pugh Jones.

"I never expected myself to do a pageant, but I'm so grateful that I did it. It's been a life-changing experience, and one of the most fabulous parts of it was the national pageant in Jackson, TN.

One very special thing about pageantry is meeting other like-minded young women from all over America (and being offered a place to stay if I'm ever in Hawaii). Throughout the Miss America Teen Volunteer pageant, I was surrounded by teen girls with such a wide variety of backgrounds. It was so amazing to get to meet so many different types of people who care deeply about what they are doing.

"In between rehearsals, we would help each other learn the routine we kept forgetting, teach new make-up and stage wardrobe techniques, and most importantly, learn about each other's SERVE initiatives." she says. (SERVE represents the 5 points of the crown and stands for Scholarship, Education, Responsibility, Volunteerism, And Empowerment). "The stories I heard from the other state teen volunteer girls were so moving, and I feel so blessed to have gotten to meet so many supportive, smart, and beautiful teenage girls from all over the country. I keep in touch with many still to this day." Lily admits.

"I feel pageantry can get a negative reputation at times, because of its history and past. I would like to let everyone know first-hand, Miss Congeniality movies are not an accurate representation, although I do love those movies. In real life, there was no undercover police officers fighting bad guys in the middle of the talent performance! The young women I met in Jackson, TN, were so charismatic and brilliant. The Miss Teen Volunteer program focuses on providing scholarships for young women, so that they can go and reach their educational goals. I truly believe each and every one of the women I met will go on to do great things." she states.

"Although it's competition, the environment had no toxic competitive feelings. Every single state title holder was so grateful to have made it to the national stage." Lily recounts.

"I've learned a lot over this past year as Miss Montana, Teen Volunteer. Most importantly, I've learned to push myself out of my comfort zone. I never thought I would do a pageant, and I'm so grateful that I did. It's proven time, and time again that I am capable of anything I set my mind to. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone is a great way to fast forward my personal growth! As a result of my time in pageantry, I feel more prepared for my future at Montana State this fall. I know now that I am capable of working under pressure and in an entirely new environment. You can throw me in a room with 50 of the most educated, talented, and beautiful teens in America and I can make great friendships. I'm excited for my future because I know I can do the same in all areas of my life now."

Lily Jones, Brynlee McNally (daughter of Jason and Stacy McNally), and Liliana Johnson (daughter of Ray and Heather Johnson), were Miss Montana Volunteer title holders in 2023, each in their respective age divisions. They all attended the national competition in Jackson, TN, earlier this month. This past weekend, all three girls passed their crown on to the 2024 Miss Montana teen volunteers.

In Tennessee, Sidney's own Liliana Johnson was a non-finalist award winner at Miss Volunteer America!

She competed in evening gown, fitness, and interview.

Brynlee Mcnally, Little Miss Volunteer Montana, 2023, was part of the opening ceremonies each of the four competition nights. She also accompanied Liliana on stage during her evening gown competition.

"I am speechless and humbled and I'll never forget this experience. I am so thankful to have met all of these women who are beautiful inside and out", said Johnson.

Liliana posted one last picture before passing on the crown. She captioned it. "Signing off as your Miss Montana Volunteer 2023 Liliana Johnson".


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