Maddie Hansen is an 18 year old senior at Santa Rosa High School. Hansen, who has an agriculture background, recently competed in the Miss Sonoma County Pageant.
She was the third runner up, but she said at the end of the contest, it was about much more than winning. From the pageant, Hansen has gained life skills and a new found appreciation for Sonoma County. In addition to being the third runner up, Hansen also received an award for her Top Talent.
Hansen is a straight A student, and she takes additional classes at the Santa Rosa Junior College. This semester, she is taking college level music theory and macroeconomics in addition to her high school classes. She is also a member of the Santa Rosa High School debate team; this year she serves as the team’s captain.
Although Hansen couldn’t fit agriculture classes into her busy high school schedule, she has been involved with 4-H since she was nine and participated in a myriad of projects. She has shown goats, sheep, chickens and ducks in addition to exhibiting an herb garden, pies and cakes at local fairs.
In addition to her 4-H projects, she has a palomino Quarter Horse named Doc. Doc is trained both Western and English and Hansen describes him as being both the “best ride you’ve ever had or the bumpiest.” She said he’s a stubborn horse, but she still makes a point to take care of him and make sure he gets the exercise he needs.
Hansen has also spent time in her family’s vineyard. She has worked through harvests and even had the opportunity to a manage team.
“I love working in my family’s vineyards,” said Hansen. “I love my family, I love my farm and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”
For fun, Hansen enjoys going hunting with her cousins. She likes to hunt waterfowl, turkey and deer.
Hansen, who is no stranger to taking on a great deal, said the Miss Sonoma County pageant was a lot of work.
Hansen said when she first entered Miss Sonoma County, she thought pageants were about beauty and dressing up. She also knew the stereotype of girls who competed in pageants: “they were all about beauty and they were snooty.”
But it didn’t take her long to realize none of this was true. As someone who had never competed in a pageant before, she said the more experienced girls were quick to help her and get her up to speed.
“They were really nice people,” Hansen said. “They were all smart and intelligent girls I can now call my friends.”
Soon into her pageant experience, Hansen said, “I realized there was so much I could take from it.”
She said she learned that speaking on stage was hard work, even for someone who had previously been the captain of her school’s debate team. Hansen said that contestants had to learn to speak eloquently and on their feet. By the end of the competition, Hansen said she could walk around with her head high and a smile always on her face.
The competition was more than just a pageant. The girls had to go through training, everything from leaning how to walk to a rhythm to put on makeup for their interviews. They also had to learn a musical number for the event.
“I have two left feet and can’t dance to save my life,” said Hansen, “but when I started getting into it, I had lots of fun.”
Hansen was also excited by the dress she wore to the pageant. She found it at a thrift store for $16, and although it might not have been quite as shiny as some of the other contestants’ dresses, she said she loved her dress and was proud of her find.
At the end of the pageant, along with her life skills and placing as the third runner up, Hansen also took home a Top Talent Award. Hansen’s talent was opera singing, and for the pageant, she sang “O Mio Babbino Caro” by Giacomo Puccini.
Hansen has been singing opera for 9 years and takes lessons twice a week.
The other aspect of the contest included an interview in front of a panel of seven judges. The contestants had to develop a platform to better their community and were asked questions on this among other things. Hansen’s platform focused on domestic violence and was inspired by two women in her life who have been through abusive relationships.
Although Hansen has grown up in Sonoma County, the contest taught her a lot of history about her community she didn’t know before. She said as she went through the contest, she realized there was so much she didn’t know about Sonoma County and she was going to miss the place she has called home.
Hansen intends to speak at her high school graduation in May about diversity. After she graduates, she plans to attend a four year university as a pre-med major with an end goal of becoming a doctor.
In her spare time, Hansen said you can find her writing stories, walking through her family’s vineyard or in the calf barn behind her house.