Many people know me as Bethany, the intern who loves her job teaching all ages about nature, the environment and everything that goes with it. Not many people know me as Bethany, the beauty pageant queen.

TOC naturalist intern Bethany Florey as Miss Fish Days 2007
TOC naturalist intern Bethany Florey as Miss Fish Days 2007
Now before you all start thinking of Miss United States, just hold on. When I say pageant queen, I mean Miss Fish Days Queen 2007. It’s a little small town beauty pageant that high school girls participate in for our town celebration of Fish Days.

But yes, I, despite all my tomboyish ways and my love for hunting and fishing, despite my sports centered mind… I found time to do a beauty pageant. I did the whole shebang: The interviews. Casual and formal wear. Onstage questions. I even went out and got sponsors. Everything.

If it wasn’t for Sandra Bullock, I’m pretty positive I could have been the next Miss Congeniality.

For the pageant, my focus (or “platform,” in pageant terms) was the outdoors. I was focused on getting not only kids, but all generations back outside. I must have done something right because while I was standing there on stage I heard “and your 2007 Fish Days is… BETHANY FLOREY!” It was kind of surreal. I heard the crowd cheering and clapping; it took me a second to realize that they really said my name. I was pretty excited because I beat out three seniors for the title.

The reason this blog post is called “The Unforeseen Future” is because I didn’t realize how big an influence that pageant platform would have on my future. That it would take me through three different major programs at South Dakota State University, before going back to Parks and Recreation. That it would lead me to intern at state campgrounds like Snake Creek Recreation Area as a naturalist. All of that eventually led me here, to The Outdoor Campus in Sertoma Park.

Beth instructing women on proper paddling technique
Beth instructing women on proper paddling technique

What do I do here at TOC, you ask?

I do exactly what I want to do and love doing. I am a naturalist intern. I create and teach classes about nature and the environment to all ages. I get to teach outdoor skills like archery and kayaking, among many others. I play with, care for and teach about our classroom animals.

If you ask me, I’m exactly where I want to be. And to think, it all started when a young girl who liked to hunt, fish and be outside, decided to enter a beauty pageant.

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