Friday, February 26, 2021

Dakota Derstein Visits Section 36!

Photo by Brittney Seger
Section 36 has another visitor! Dakota Derstein is passionate about wildlife, a talented dancer, and the current Miss Santa Fe Trail. I was excited that she wanted to visit with us to discuss those topics, and a few more.

So, let's see what happens when Dakota Derstein visits Section 36!

How did you celebrate winning the Miss Santa Fe Trail crown?
After winning I actually celebrated with convenience store snacks, I'm a sucker for a Dr. Pepper, and a two hour drive back home. Once I was home, I recapped my views of the competition with my family and a few days later I celebrated by having my favorite meal at a local restaurant!

What have you learned about yourself at past competitions that will help you when you compete for Miss Kansas? 
Each year of competition has taught me something different: humility, friendship, strength, fear, pride. The Miss Kansas competition teaches being humble while also being proud of your accomplishments. It's quite the balancing act, I used to struggle the most with wanting to show the judges everything about me and holding some of it back, afraid to overwhelm them. This is my final year of eligibility, so I'm simply going to be myself. 

What has been the most pleasant surprise about your time as Miss Santa Fe Trail?
The most pleasant experience thus far was the support I had
from my local directors and the state board when I was offered my internship at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. They all supported me in wanting to move out to the west coast for six months to pursue that dream!

How did you select your social impact initiative, “C.A.R.E.: Conserving And Restoring Ecosystems”?
My love for animals has always stemmed from a young age, growing up watching Steve Irwin is what filled my free time. C.A.R.E. is meant to focus on interspecies relationships, meaning between different species. I had different social impact initiatives before, the positive impact of 4-H, and students against drunk and drugged driving, platforms that are still very important to me. Judges typically ask an animal or environment related question due to my college studies but after being asked the importance of bees and how straws usage affects sea turtles, a judge gave my directors the feedback: "why isn't she always talking about animals?" The judge saw my passion for other creatures and my university classes showed me the importance behind caring about how we treat the planet.

You were able to intern at Wildlife Safari in Oregon. What was that experience like?
I wish there was one word to describe it, but there isn't. I was able to be part of a team that is ranked as the number two cheetah breeding facility on Earth and the number one breeding facility outside of Africa. I woke up everyday and drove to a safari park where I heard cheetahs purr when we arrived because they were happy to see us. I could be mere feet away from a lion pride when they all roared in the evenings. In-between feeding bears and training tigers, I got to teach guests all about the amazing animals that we cared for and continued to inspire new people. 

What is your personal fitness routine?
My fitness routine has varied over the past few years. As a Tiger Deb dancer at Fort Hays State University I went to a yoga class once a week, lifted weights once or twice a week, had three practices a week, and ran a timed mile once every month- that doesn't include the game days! While in Oregon I didn't have access to a gym and my work days were filled with manual labor, lots of heavy lifting and constantly walking.

Currently, I still practice dance 2-3 times a week and I run or bike when the weather permits- Covid-19 has made it hard to go to a gym so I focus on controlling my meal portions as well.

If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?
This actually may be the hardest question for me! I thought, Pocahontas because she was connected to nature and was kindhearted, or Ariel because she's adventurous and loved her home in the ocean. But I think I'd pick Jane, from Tarzan, because she was all of those things too and her father taught her a love for animals but also a respect to help them. She was always drawing animals and admiring them, and she wasn't searching for love- but she found love when she stood up for what she believed in. 

If you had an extra ticket to a Kansas City Royals game, who would you take with you? Why?
I would probably take my mom! She's a big sports fan and she's never been to a game so I'd like to share that first time experience with her!

Is there a feature or activity at a Royals game that you’d especially like to experience?
There's an inside joke in my family that I'm a dancer (not a singer) for a reason, so we say at any sports event I would probably be more likely to present the game ball rather than sing the National Anthem, but I'll take it one step further and say I'd like to throw the first pitch!


That's always been something I'd love to do too! 

As always, I want to thank Dakota for visiting with us, and for sending along the fantastic pictures to go with the interview.

As Dakota continues her time as Miss Santa Fe Trail, I encourage you to follow her on Facebook as well as her personal and official Instagram accounts. They're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on!

I also definitely want to wish her the best of luck when she competes for the Miss Kansas title. It would be wonderful to have the first Section 36 visitor wear that crown!
Thanks again Dakota, and good luck!

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