It’s been a busy three months for Miss Nebraska 2023 Morgan Baird, who has already put more than 10,000 miles on the car she gets to use during her reign.
The 21-year-old met with the Scottsbluff Noon Kiwanis Club last week, detailing the many local competitions and county fairs where she’s made appearances, saying she has a goal of stopping in as many small Nebraska towns as possible.
Another focus has been her community service initiative to ‘Rock the Vote’ and build political power of the young. Morgan said not every young person she talks to about the importance of voting shares her passion for civic engagement. “The conversation often shifts to ‘how do the choices I make now, 18-years-old voting, how does it affect me’? So, I often bring up my time in the Legislature and how I was able to see first-hand how voting affects people every day, because it’s on a much smaller level,” Morgan said.
Case in point, she highlighted the relatively slim margin of victory for District 48 Sen. Brian Hardin of Gering, whose desk on the legislative floor this past session was directly in front of where she would often sit as a Legislative Page. It was her second year serving lawmakers in that capacity, and said it’s been one of her greatest experiences so far.
She has also been building on that civic passion, recently becoming certified as a third-party registrar to help people register to vote. She’s also getting ready to start a project interviewing every state senator to compile their views on why it’s important for young people to get involved in politics and turn out to vote during elections.
The Miss America contest in January also looms large, a date Morgan says her mother Krista keeps reminding her is fast approaching, and with that will come a certain level of expenses. She said the scholarship organizations do help out with certain items, such as airfare to the contest, but most of the cost is borne by the contestant, their families and supporters.
Toward that end, an Oct. 6 fundraiser at Hotel 21 in Gering has been organized to help Morgan pay for costs associated with the trip. She says since it falls on the date of an ‘away’ Husker game, it will be a tailgate event, including a meal, silent auction and other activities to help raise money for her goal of becoming Gering’s second Miss America.
Morgan says it is a bit nerve-racking knowing that she will be the 7th youngest contestant at next year’s contest, but says she has been able to get support from local contestants that made it to that level of the scholarship pageant. She says she has talked some with former Miss America Teresa Scanlan, but now as a full-time attorney, her time is limited. Morgan said Jaycee Pilkington has been a more frequent contact, and has been able to give her some really good insights since she, too, made it to the nationwide contest as a 21-year-old.