By Cole Scott; Videography by Abigail Burke

Bellarmine University junior Emma Rhodes gets her hands dirty doing community service by picking up trash near the Ohio River for a greater cause outside of herself.

Emma, who has already won the title of Miss Kentucky Earth, competed for the National title of Miss Earth USA in Las Vegas, end of June and beginning of July.

Emma competed with more than 50 girls across the country.  She placed in the top 12.

“It was so amazing to meet so many different kinds of women and their platforms and passions,” Emma said.

A big supporter of the Miss Earth pageant is Rhodes’ mother, Tabatha Rhodes. Both love this organization and strive to help the environment by being a part of a community.

“This pageant isn’t all about wearing a dress and being pretty,” Tabatha said.  “It’s truly about sending the message that each one of these young ladies has a voice and that their actions in this world impact our planet and how we can make it a better place.”

Because Emma had been through the pageant system before she knew what the judges were looking for in the competition.  Miss Earth pageant organizers want women who practice what they preach and truly live the mission of the organization.

“I love to be an advocate of this organization because they truly embrace what they want to perceive and to show others how they can live an eco-friendly life and a sustainable lifestyle,” Emma said.

Emma made a few appearances after winning her state title, one being a project to prepare for the national competition.  Each participant is contributed to an eco-friendly project over the summer.  Emma participated in her own project where she cleaned the river system across many different states.

“I participated in the Ohio River Sanitation Sweep,” Emma said.  “It spread across six states starting in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, all the way down to Cairo, Illinois, and we removed 40,000 tons of trash.”

According to the Miss Earth website, the pageant is an international environmental event channeling the beauty pageant entertainment industry as an effective tool to promote environmental awareness.

Emma says this organization allows her to be ‘a beauty for a cause’ and to utilize her talents and passions to benefit the planet in a positive way.

“The great thing about this system is that, yes, it is all about environmental conservation, but there are so many branches off of that,” Emma said.  “It can be ocean sustainability, ending the plastic epidemic or deforestation.  There are many aspects that you can bring to it and that is what Miss Earth Organization and delegates want to bring.”

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