The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Watermelon Queen sows industry message

 
 

To most, watermelons are juice dripping down your chin on a summer day in Texas or a seed-spitting contest in your grandmothers backyard. But to Kimberly Duda, watermelons represent a rich history and a progressive future that are much more than a simple summer memory.
Along with being a senior psychology major, Duda currently holds the title of The Texas Watermelon Queen. She competes in pageants to represent the National Watermelon Association on a local, statewide and national level.
We are supposed to really push issues, including food safety, health care and immigration, Duda said. Thats why the competition is so intense.
According to Duda, there are many components to the pageants, including an interview, eveningwear and speech portion.
My favorite part is the interview and being able to let the judges know why I am qualified, Duda said. I have a passion for this and I just like getting to share that with them.
Duda said that despite preparation for the pageant, she wasnt completely flawless.
When I really want something, I get really nervous, Duda said. [During the competition] I completely forgot my speech. It was not eloquent, but it came from my heart.
Dudas passion for the watermelon industry comes from a deep seeded tradition of agriculture that her great-great grandfather planted long ago. He emigrated from Slovakia to the U.S. right before the first World War and began farming in Florida. The farming business was passed down through the generations to Dudas father.
He formed the company and its now in three states including Texas and California, Duda said. We have the biggest family-owned produce company.
Duda isn’t the first member of her family to participate in the Watermelon Queen competitions. Seven years ago, her older sister Stephanie Reissner took home the Texas title as well as the national title.
We have a family legacy now, Duda said. I have big shoes to fill.
Reissner is very supportive of her little sister and has tried to provide Duda with encouragement and insight.
The best advice I could ever give her is to be herself, Reissner said. She is well-spoken, fun, smart, sincere and beautiful inside and out. I encouraged her to prepare by researching current issues facing the watermelon industry. I quizzed her with questions I know the judges like to ask in the interviews and I helped her practice her speech. Ultimately she won because of who she is.
Reissner is also very hopeful that Duda will take home the national crown.
Now I am anxious to watch her shine at the National Competition, Reissner said.
The family ties to the watermelon industry even go beyond their participation in the competition. Duda and Reissners mother, Barbara Duda is the Texas Watermelon Association Secretary and Queen Coordinator. Barbara arranges trips for the queen, chaperones events and has the opportunity to witness the impact of the queen first hand.
The Texas Watermelon Queen travels throughout the year, but mostly in the summer when the fruit is in season here, Barbara said. Each queen works at many in-store promotions throughout the state and sometimes travels out of the state to help out with other promotions or events that feature watermelon.
The queen also has two trips that she goes on every year as a spokesperson to the Produce Marketing Association Convention and the United Fresh March on Washington Public Policy Conference where they get to help lobby for issues that affect the association and the produce industry.
Duda is very motivated to spread the National Watermelon Associations message and enjoys every moment of it.
They are counting on me [to] get our issues across, raise awareness and promote watermelon as a nutritious and delicious fruit you can eat all year round, Duda said.
As Duda prepares for the National Watermelon Queen competition at the centennial celebration of the National Watermelon Association, held on Feb. 20-24 in San Antonio, she reflects on how impactful the experience has been and how she hopes to incorporate it into her future endeavors.
Its a funny title, but it is a pretty cool job, Dude said. Im 21 years old and Im the face and voice of a major industry for our state. If I could do something like this for the rest of my life, it would be awesome.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *