July 20, 2009

Pageant promotes Earth

Say the word “beauty pageant” and most people recall watching young women parade across a stage in evening gowns and colorful swimsuits, all in the name of world peace.

While the purpose of most pageants is to focus on talent, looks and personality, the United States Earth Pageants is taking a different route by promoting environmental conservation.

Their slogan is “beauties for a cause.”

“It’s not just a beauty pageant; Everyone is really dedicated to their community,” said Jolie Schamber, sophomore and law studies major.

Schamber began competing in beauty pageants when she was 14.

She is representing Florida in the 2009 United States Earth pageant from July 19 – 22, in southern Nevada’s Primm Valley.

Schamber is competing for the title of Miss Teen Earth United States against 60 other contestants.

The competition consists of multiple interviews, a fashion show, a tree-planting ceremony at the Primm Valley Resort and Conference Center and a dry riverbed clean up.

“We won’t be wearing the crowns when we plant the trees,” Schamber said while laughing.

The pageant requires each contestant to have a specific environmental platform.

Schamber’s official platform is Clean the World, a non-profit organization that was founded in February.

CTW collects used soap, shampoo and conditioner from hotels. It is then recycled and distributed to Third World countries.

“What we do reduces death from acute respiratory illness and diarrheal disease, which are the number one and number third killers of children worldwide,” said Shawn Seipler, executive director of Clean the World.

Distributing the soap and teaching children how to properly wash their hands can reduce death up to 65 percent, Seipler said.

“We are very impressed with what Jolie has done so far,” Seipler said. “She lets folks know that these diseases are deadly and that there is a company who is doing something about it.”

Schamber attends speaking engagements on behalf of the organization in an attempt to create partnerships between the organization and businesses.

“Over the summer, I worked with hotels in Daytona to get them linked with Clean the World,” Schamber said.

Schamber convinced Ocean Waters to partner with CTW to recycle soap, shampoo and conditioner from 23 of its hotels and resorts in Daytona.

“It was because of her advocacy and her promotion that Ocean Waters became a partner,” Seipler said.

While the pageant’s main focus is on the environment, it still incorporates the traditional categories of pageants, including the swimsuit and evening gown competitions.

“What does a swimsuit competition have to do with recycling?” said April Phillips, former beauty pageant contestant.

Phillips, 31, competed in pageants in high school.

“Sometimes the focus can be shifted to the more glamorous parts,” Phillips said. “But if she can use her pageantry to do positive things, that is great.”

Schamber’s focus remains on her cause though.

“What’s really important to me is being able to pair up with Clean the World,” Schamber said. “I hope that I’m able to bring them national attention because it is something very close to my heart.”

Her dedication to the environment does not just include the beauty pageant.

“I don’t think I’ve ever done so much with a title before,” Schamber said.

Schamber recently attended Eco-Fest in Miami, Central Florida Earth Day and the Baldwin Park Green Fest.

She plans to merge her environmental support with her future political career.

“I plan on pushing for environment legislation in the Senate,” Schamber said. Her future goals include attending graduate school, becoming a United Nations good-will ambassador and then running for office.

“It is definitely a life-long thing,” Schamber said.


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