Upon giving up my title as Miss Harbor Cities 2016, I knew I had only one local competition I was eligible to compete in prior to state – the Miss Wisconsin Sweeps pageant. On April 2, 2017 just a few weeks following my farewell pageant in Manitowoc I was humbled to be crowned Miss Badgerland 2017 at Burlington High School. I remember being succumb with so many emotions that evening and feeling honored that I got to compete my final year of eligibility (not knowing at that time that the national organization would extend the age limit later that fall). In fact, as I stood on that stage praying to hear my name called, I thought I was going to faint I was shaking with nerve and some friends of mine in the audience shared that same thought later on that evening. Nonetheless, I heard, “Miss Badgerland…Tianna Vanderhei!” as the last of the three Miss Wisconsin Sweeps titles and my knees buckled.
I’ve been told that girls favor a closed pageant title because they want to be connected to a community and serve an area. However, I’d argue that holding multiple open titles (which requires a contestant to simply live, work, and/or go to school in the state) carries various advantages as well. Although my Sweeps title was void as of finals night of Miss Wisconsin 2017, I made it a point to cram as much activity into those two and a half months leading up to the state competition. To me, any local title is a valuable one and should be embraced with 110 percent of a woman’s energy, enthusiasm, and drive to truly make a difference.
Accomplishments and appearances during my year as Miss Badgerland 2017:
- Participated in Miss America Serves Day at the Veterans Home at King
- Organized my 3rd Annual CMN Hospitals Garage Sale in Wisconsin Rapids, raising more than $800 for local children and families in need
- Spoke at Z93, La Crosse’s Hit Music Station about Miss Wisconsin ticket sales and my preparations leading up to state
- Spoke with kids at The Good Fight Community Center in La Crosse
- Presented “Let’s Talk: Skill Sets 4 Success” at Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids (my Alma mater)
- Visited students at Howe Elementary School in Wisconsin Rapids and spoke about the importance of soft skills and career exploration
- Finished as 1st Runner-Up to Miss Wisconsin 2017
- Received the Overall Evening Gown Award at Miss Wisconsin 2017