Pittman takes home crown

Stone High School student Jada Pittman represented Stone County at the Mississippi Fishing Rodeo this month.

She placed first runner up and won two scholarships worth $500 and $250.

The rodeo took place from July 1 through July 4 at Jones Park in Gulfport.

 SHS counselor Brook Rosetti and CTE instructor Jessica Jones advised Pittman to apply to compete.

“It’s not something common you really hear about,” Pittman said of fishing rodeos.

The pageant consists of Mississippi applicants from each county. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 21. Each contestant can only compete once. The winner crowned gets to crown the Queen the following year.

Pittman said she enjoyed her experience so much, she hopes others from Stone County will enter in the future.

It’s a really good experience,” Pittman said. “I would definitely get Wiggins to advertise the pageant more for Stone because I think I was the only one who applied."

Applications need to provide their grades, extracurricular involvement, and showcase how they would potentially represent the county if selected. There is no need for previous pageant experience, “Most of the girls hadn’t been in a pageant before,” Pittman said.

The experience can also help develop social skills.

”We had to meet and greet people every day. So you definitely cannot be shy about talking to people," Pittman said.

Each participant gets a $250 scholarship and a chance at a $1,000 scholarship for first place. The first runner-up gets a $500 scholarship.

Pittman had a challenge adjusting to the fishing environment.

“They judged us on how they handled it. How involved we were. How good we talked to people. Getting more comfortable around that atmosphere was challenging,” Pittman said. “I had never fished before. You didn’t have to fish, but you did have to pick up fish, help fishermen. I gutted a fish. I filleted a fish. So, it was just pretty much switching to that. Getting used to it and getting more involved. They wanted you to have fun."

She also had the chance to make friends with other contestants in between official duties.

“We were competing against each other, but we were all more friends and just supported each other rather than look at each other as opponents,” she said.

Pittman was inspired to enter her first pageant because of her mother,

Tabitha Pearson. Her mother passed away in December of 2020.

When Pearson was younger, she placed first runner up in the Mississippi Fishing Rodeo as well.

“I felt like I was with her,” Pittman said. “She loved pageants She was always talking about how fun they were."

Pittman's father, Tab Pittman, and her aunt, Jamie Dunn were there in support.

“He was very emotional. He just kept saying he was happy I made mom proud. And he was just happy that I could be a part of something that she was."

Her mother's illness also inspired her career path.

This fall, Pittman will be attending Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College's nursing program and plans to transfer to the University of Mobile.

"I want to be a pediatric nurse practitioner. That’s my plan," Pittman said. “I’ve always loved kids and seeing my mom being sick for so many years, and then my dad, I fell in love with helping them and helping other people."

Pittman took health science classes at Stone High for two years under Cassie Hickman to help prepare.

She will use her fishing rodeo scholarships to fund her path to nursing.

She wants other girls to know the opportunity get college scholarships are available, whether they have an interest in pageants and fishing or not.

“There should be more girls that try to apply for it even if they second-guess it. If you stop and think about it, it is a good opportunity. You meet a lot of new people,” Pittman said. “I wish I could do it every day."