Howard County's new Farm Bureau agricultural ambassador, Anna Marie Schlicht, will spend her 17th birthday today as she has spent many others - at the Howard County Fair.
Schlicht raises beef, swine and poultry on a 1-acre farm in Clarksville and has been active in 4-H since she was 10 years old. So she is usually at the fair in early August.
This was the first year Schlicht was old enough to enter the ambassador contest - sponsored by the Howard County Farm Bureau Women and previously called the Farm Queen Contest.
"I wanted to [enter] since I was little," she said. "I looked up to the older girls."
Like the other six contestants, Schlicht had an interview with a panel of three judges Sunday and gave a speech about her agriculture activities in front of a crowd of fairgoers in the show ring.
Then she answered a question from the master of ceremonies about her participation in the National 4-H Youth Directions Council. She talked about being one of only 11 4-H participants in the country chosen to attend a conference on building partnerships between youth and adults.
A senior at River Hill High School who also sings and dances, Schlicht is interested in getting more young people involved in 4-H and the Farm Bureau. She is also a state 4-H Teen Council member, director of membership for the Maryland State Fair Junior Board and the 2003 Maryland Lamb and Wool Queen. She plans to become a veterinarian for large animals.
Schlicht said she was shocked when her name was announced.
"I had no clue I was going to win," she said. "Any of those girls I ran against could have won."
Emma Bullock of Ellicott City was named first runner-up. Other competitors were Megan Bondhus of Columbia; Kathleen Fry of Ellicott City; Lyndsay Glasscock of Sykesville; Amanda Greene of Woodbine; and Laura Mihm of Woodbine.
This year, the Howard County Farm Bureau Women adopted the name Agricultural Ambassador Contest to follow changes made to the state-level competition. Schlicht will compete for the Maryland ambassador title at the state fair in Timonium on Aug. 22. That contest will no longer require formal dress or have a crown.
"I'm interested to see where it will go," Schlicht said of the contest changes.
Young men likely will be able to compete in the future, and Schlicht thinks that is fair. "They know just as much [about agriculture] as we do," she said.