For 17-year-old Beth Bonde, serving as Mount Airy's Miss Fire Prevention during the past 11 months has been a rewarding experience.
"It's given me a lot of public-speaking skills," said Miss Bonde. "It's opened a door; I don't have to be shy anymore.
Miss Bonde, whose one-year term as Miss Mount Airy Fire Prevention will end July 26, said she has enjoyed meeting people and getting to know them.
"I met a woman from another fire department who has a career I'm interested in," she said.
One of the biggest challenges of her term has been getting to know the many volunteers at the Mount Airy Fire Company.
"It's real nice to see a group of people who dedicate themselves to helping others," she said.
Sparking the interest of children in the fire company and fire prevention was a favorite activity of Miss Bonde's when she rode parades and visited carnivals and area schools for Fire Prevention Week.
Miss Bonde said she has enjoyed learning more about fire prevention, especially about new home sprinkler systems and heat sensor equipment.
One of her major responsibilities has been representing the Mount Airy Fire Company at three contests. She won the Miss Carroll County Fire Prevention title in October and was named second runner-up in the Miss Maryland Fire Chiefs' Fire Prevention Contest in November.
Miss Bonde joined the Mount Airy Fire Company's Ladies Auxiliary last October and has worked at an open house and the company's weekly bingo nights.
In addition to being a "very active" Miss Fire Prevention, Miss Bonde had a busy senior year at South Carroll High School. The National Honor Society member received three scholarships. She will attend Shepherd College in West Virginia this fall.
Miss Bonde's longtime career goal, which has been nourished by years in Carroll County 4-H clubs, is to become a fashion merchandiser. During her senior year, she took a textile and fashion design course at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center.
This year she represented the school and the county in the state Vocational and Industrial Clubs of America competition and earned first place in commercial clothing construction. She recently was one of 14 contestants in the National VICA Skill Olympics in Kentucky. She is also employed as a piece worker at English American Tailoring in Westminster.
"I've always wanted to work in the clothing industry," she said.
Miss Bonde said she is willing to talk to anyone interested in becoming a contestant in the coming Miss Mount Airy Fire Prevention contest.
She may be contacted at (301) 831-5824.
Fire prevention is serious business at the Mount Airy Fire Company, and having a Miss Mount Airy Fire Prevention to represent the company each year is an important tradition for the volunteer organization.
The fire company is looking for interested young women to vie for the position of Miss 1993 Mount Airy Fire Prevention at the contest on July 26, the first night of the company's firemen's carnival.
A panel of three judges will select Miss Bonde's successor. Candidates will be individually interviewed and judged on poise, personality, speaking ability and form.
While general appearance is considered, the competition is not a beauty contest. The primary focus of it is knowledge of fire prevention. Each contestant will demonstrate her knowledge in a one-minute speech on stage at the carnival.
Candidates are required to be unmarried and childless, between the ages of 16 and 21, and residents of Mount Airy's first-due response area. They are asked to wear suitable attire, such as a skirt and blouse or a dress. Neither formal wear or blue jeans are appropriate for the contest.
The 1993 Miss Mount Airy Fire Prevention will receive a $100 cash prize and may keep her crown and banner at the end of her term. The first runner-up in the contest will receive a $50 prize, and the second runner-up will receive $25.
Booklets on fire prevention topics and other support are available to all contestants at the fire company.
For more information, call Janet Kipe, Mount Airy's fire prevention chairman, at (301) 829-2293 after 5 p.m.