Monday, December 29, 2014

Meet Your Miss North Dakota International 2015!

My name is Megan Yahna but my friends call me Meg! I was recently crowned Miss North Dakota International 2015!

I have been dreaming about being crowned Miss North Dakota ever since the fourth grade, when Miss North Dakota gave a presentation at my elementary school! I remember sitting in my classroom with my ratty, blonde, pigtails staring up at her. There was something about her, something that set her apart from anyone else I had ever seen! It was almost like she was glowing, she was so beautiful, poised, intelligent and caring. She was everything my little fourth grade self strived to be.  Not to mention she had a shimmery princess crown! However, it was not until I went to college where the title of Miss North Dakota began to mean much more to me than a striking persona and shimmery crown!

After having matured I have realized what the title of Miss North Dakota truly means to me! In my eyes Miss North Dakota is the epitome of service. Her job is much more than wearing a crown. Her job is to represent everyone in North Dakota while respecting all opinions.  Her job is to better the State of North Dakota by advocating any issue that is close to her heart! I was not only given a beautiful crown but the ability to use that crown to make a difference in North Dakota and I cannot wait!

A little bit about my 22 years of life!

I grew up as a farmer’s daughter in a small town called Larimore! Just in case you were wondering, Larimore is the shelterbelt capital of the world! Larimore does not only have shelterbelts it has the sweetest, friendliest, most caring people you will ever meet! We are a close-knit, farming community and I don’t know where I would be without their love and support!

I have a little brother Blake, who is 19 and would do anything for anyone! I also have a little sister Macy, who just turned 13 and is brilliant beyond measure. I love them both more than words can say!

My Mom Lori was the head of the radiology department at a hospital in Grand Forks when she decided to stay home with my little sister. She is now in charge the local wellness center and is a devoted volunteer at the Larimore Food Pantry. She instilled service in my heart from day one! If wasn’t sitting in the tractor with Dad I was helping my mother with the newest volunteer activity she dreamed up!

I was a very blessed little girl! My parents put me in every sport and extra curricular activity imaginable. They always went out of their way to get me to every camp and event possible and just encouraged me to do my best win or loose and for that I thank them!

All throughout high school I was not only involved in all sports offered but was FCCLA President, Student Council Vice President and had numerous Vocal Solo, Music and Acting awards!

My senior year I was named Homecoming Queen! However, I never got to see my Homecoming football game due to a car accident I was in with two of my good friends. We were on our way into Grand Forks, which is about 30 minutes from Larimore, to get food before the big game when we rolled the jeep three times. Luckily the good Lord was on our side because we all were okay!

Later on I was to receive a bigger blessing when a letter came inviting me to compete at the Miss North Dakotas Homecoming Queen Pageant in Sioux Falls South Dakota! I thought, sure why not! I went to Sioux Falls for my first pageant and took home the title of First Runner up and Miss Congeniality! Only to get a call a few weeks later saying the winner couldn't go to the national pageant therefor I was the new Miss North Dakotas Homecoming Queen!

After High School I attended Mayville State University to play volleyball for a semester! I had a lot of fun with my teammates and learned a lot from Mayville’s great teachers but felt like the Lord wanted me to take a different path!

The next year I attended Minnesota State University Moorhead where I started a double major of Political Science and Biology! I got a job at Buffalo Wild Wings and I became a very avid volunteer! From food pantries to nursing homes to animal shelters I have experienced many different organizations committed to helping North Dakota! I like to think of my college in three parts, working, volunteering and studying! I wouldn’t give up any of it; my volunteer experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today!

My hard work eventually paid off and just this last summer at age 21 I graduated with a degree in Political Science! After I graduated I decided to drive across America and then go up and down the east coast! I stopped in North Carolina where I decided to adopt my little, elderly Cocker Spaniel who I named Pepper. It was a wonderful learning experience and I adopted my adorable dog!

I now live in West Fargo and attend North Dakota State University where I met my loving boyfriend Andrew. I plan to complete my second degree in Biology and then attend physician assistant School! I also intend to run for political office in the near future! A girl has to dream big right?!

My other hobbies include: modeling, barefoot water skiing, running, working-out, kite skiing, reading, knitting, playing with my dogs Coco, Raven and Pepper, hanging with my friends and family, singing and volunteering!

I am so excited for this new chapter of my life! I cannot wait to start my new year of service to better North Dakota as your Miss North Dakota International 2015! Here we go!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Meet Your New Mrs. North Dakota International 2015, Erin Bertel.

I am Erin Bertel, Mrs. North Dakota International 2015, but let me tell you about the “real” me not the beauty queen that you visualize in your mind. I grew up as a small town girl and went to school in Lake Park, Minnesota. Being raised by my dad who was alone and disabled. Joined by my grandma, along with my two sisters and my younger brother, together there were the five of us. Growing up with my dad and my grandma had its share of challenges as being non-traditional- but even then I was as blessed as I am now. Anyone that grew up in the 70s-80s knows about to good old days of being the human remote control for the TV, when your land line for your phone was a party line, and there was a home cooked hot dish every Sunday for dinner. It was a fundamental time that raised my standards of resourcefulness, a hard work ethic, and developed my moral compass to have a true north.

Today, I am a regular woman who wears yoga pants, makes dinner for own family, cleans my own home.  I am not as different or glamorous daily as you think.  I am a registered nurse and have worked in many areas of nursing since 1997, but the most important people that I have been blessed to take care of are my husband and best friend of almost twelve amazing years, John, an electrical engineer and co-owner of a warehousing business. We met years ago during a very lucky game of “Dare” that I was playing with my sister. Our oldest, our son Zachary who I bought a matchbox car for when he was a year old for less than a dollar and who’s first words were “vroom-vroom.” He has now devoted his life to the world of all things with wheels and motors. He is now almost finished with the Automotive Technology program at a Minnesota College. Our middle child, McKenzie, a senior at Davies High School and hot dog and hamburger cook at Sonic. She is my “mini-me” only with contrasting beautiful blonde hair.  She has been accepted early into North Dakota State University and is following after me, and recently selected registered nursing as her major. Then there is our youngest, Elizabeth, who is a 6th grader at Discovery Middle School and is quite passionate about dance, reading and is learning to play the saxophone.  She spends a good amount of time working on trivia facts and trying to stump all of us by her inventory of information. She inspires me daily through her inquisitive nature to never stop learning. A few months ago, we took in another honorary “son” that we affectionately have renamed Z-2, since his name is also Zach. He is a freshman at NDSU in the business program. He is one of the most kind and gentlest souls that I know. Together they have become the most thoughtful, clever and most inspirational people that I have ever met. We have a seven year old yellow lab, Sadie and two hermit crabs, Herbert and Shelly.  

As a family we are one filled with faith in the Lord, loyalty to the Bison, adoration of the great state of North Dakota, appreciative of good coffee, generous with warmth and love for each other and together we are providing hope for the homeless.

Erin Bertel

Mrs. North Dakota International 2015

Monday, December 22, 2014

Meet Your Miss Teen North Dakota International 2015!!!

            Miss Teen North Dakota International 2015 here, signing in for the first time! My name is Jordyn Sayler and my family is filled with five loving people, my mom and dad, my two sisters, and me of course. Also joining my family is two dogs, a fish, and a kitty that keep the house pretty crazy.  I am currently a senior in High School and I plan on attending either Concordia College or North Dakota State University next year. When I’m not in school I enjoy ice fishing, snowmobiling, and skiing in the winter...and soapbox derby,  water skiing, and wake boarding in the summer! I am also involved in speech, peer facilitating, and volleyball at my school. I was recently blessed with winning the title of Miss Teen North Dakota International 2015 and I cannot wait to see what this year has in store! J

Yours Truly,

Jordyn Sayler
Miss Teen North Dakota International 2015

Monday, November 24, 2014

Debate Season is Finally Here!

I am so excited for another debate season! Each year when the new season starts, I remember back to when I began my first ever year as a debater. I can feel how terrified I was and how emotional I felt learning to speak out loud. I was so afraid when I would think about how my voice would be the only one everyone would hear in the room. But then, just like every other student I now watch as a judge, I feel the change. I can remember feeling like I was learning something new... confidence. All of the sudden I could hardly wait to present my case. My teammates and coaches supported me to change into the person I was all along and by the end of the year, I was excited to be given opportunities to speak. 

Debate programs, coaches, and students continue to impress me every year and I can't wait to be a part of another fantastic season. My favorite moments are watching the growth of the students from the beginning of the year to their skill development to the end of the year. It's truly inspiring to watch a student develop courage and come out of their shell just like I did. I am so honored to be a part of so many stories similar to my own and I want to invite you to help make a difference too!
The free online certification test to become a speech and debate judge in North Dakota opened on November 3rd. It's open to anyone who is interested and you don't have to be a former competitor to judge. It's a simple test and I would love to help anyone who would like to be a judge this season. Judges are paid for their time at the tournament and most tournaments even provide free food in the lounge. Tournaments need judges to run successfully, and a lot of times coaches are asked to judge because there aren't enough, which doesn't give them time to coach. If you are interested in supporting schools in your community and the growth of students as they become confident speakers, then you fit all of the criteria! The following website gives a step-by-step photo guide as to how to get started, but feel free to contact me as well if you are interested! Hope to see you there!

​Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD ​
Miss North Dakota International 2014 

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Few Things Mr. North Dakota International 2014 Learned This Year

The last year has meant many things to Janelle, our kids, and me.  I’m going to write about a few things that I have experienced:

1.     Bobby pins - description:
a.    “A bobbing pin (also known as a bobby pin, or a kirby grip or hair grip in the United Kingdom) is a type of hairpin, usually of metal or plastic, used in coiffure to hold hair in place. It is a small double-pronged hair pin or clip that slides into hair with the prongs open and then the flexible prongs close over the hair to hold it in place. They are typically plain and unobtrusively colored, but some are elaborately decorated or jeweled. Bobbing pins became popular in the 1920s to hold the new bobbed hairstyles.” - Wikipedia
b.    Something for me to see everywhere I go.  I step in the shower, bobby pins.  I get into my car, bobby pins.  In my office, bobby pins.  On the garage floor, bobby pins.  I’m not sure when Janelle purchased all of these bobby pins, perhaps she left them alone for too long and reproduction occurred or more likely Janelle has been purchasing them by the crateful and sneaking them into the house in the cover of darkness.  Instead of the whopping recycling check that I receive weekly by turning in the bobby pins, I should have purchased stock in Newell Rubbermaid, owners of the Goody pins! Thankfully stepping on bobby pins isn’t a painful experience.
2.       Salon Day - description:
a.    A day when Janelle gets pampered by Janelle Finseth, owner of 13th Ave Salon in West Fargo ( 
b.    A day when I’m Mr. Mom and in charge of running the kids to/from school and their various extracurricular activities. Many miles are traveled and I get to listen to the radio only somewhat interrupted by children.
c.     An evening when I need to be on my ‘A’ game and notice and compliment appropriately.  A simple ‘looks good’ will not be sufficient! 
3.     Nationals in Jacksonville, FL - descriptions:
a.    Touristy at its best.  I took Claire and Loren (our two oldest girls) to Florida to see Janelle compete in the pageant. We played tourists and visited St. Augustine which is the oldest city in the US.  It was HOT but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The Pirate Museum as well as Castillo de San Marcos, which is the oldest fort in the United States, were really interesting.  Once the pageant was over, we got to spend time with Janelle and hit the Atlantic Ocean where we all played in the surf and was a nice way to end the vacation.
b.    Proud, but disappointed.  Janelle did amazing and I heard from so many of the other contestants that Janelle was so much fun to be with and how they enjoyed her company (which I’ve known for the past 19 years).  The girls and I were disappointed that Janelle didn’t win, but it’s been nice that our life didn’t get turned upside down with her traveling non-stop for appearances.

Mr. ND International 2014 – Keith Steinberg