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Mrs. Utah focuses on literacy

Oct 04, 2017 03:01PM ● Published by City Journals Staff

Anne Forester worked with a young refugee to write her story in a book. (Anne Forester)

Gallery: Mrs. UT [1 Image] Click any image to expand.

Anne Royall Forester feels honored to represent her state as the reigning Mrs. Utah. 

Forester went to school at Snow College. She studied broadcast journalism and completed a degree in communications. After graduation, she worked at KSL TV for about seven years in production and investigative producing. She did some on-air reporting as well. Then she freelanced for two years. Her husband is a history teacher. 

After her second child was born, Forester decided to take a break from the work force. Being a mom is now her full-time job. She has two boys ages 2 and 4.

Forester has always been interested in pageants. She loved watching Miss America on TV growing up. 

“The timing was never right to do a pageant when I was younger, so my first pageant was actually last year as Mrs. Utah United States,” said Forester. She got second runner-up in that pageant. “I just had the best experience; it was such a positive thing for me and such an awesome opportunity for personal growth. I loved it.”

She returned for this year’s pageant at the end of April and won the title of Mrs. Utah United States. 

“The Mrs. Utah pageant had a lot of accomplished women competing,” she said. “It was important to me that I do well in Mrs. Utah. I really wanted to win the title, and I had plan for what I would do with it, so it was a memorable night.”

The national pageant was held during the week of July 4 in Orlando, Florida, with three nights of competition. Forester’s husband came along for the event. 

“He’s been really supportive of my pageant journey,” she said.

The segments of the competition are swimwear, evening gown, and a one-on-one interview with the judges, then an onstage question. 

“There are five judges, and you only get four minutes, so you really have to make a lasting impression and quickly answer your questions,” she said.

Forester placed fourth runner-up in the national pageant. “It was probably one of the best experiences of my life,” she said. “It was so fun. And it was just good to take time for me, and that’s what I like about pageants. It gives an outlet for me to work on myself.”

A main emphasis for Mrs. United States is on service. 

“I like using that platform to do service; it’s something that I really enjoy and love,” she said.

Her platform is “Read, Lead, Succeed,” which is about setting a foundation for success. 

“I focus on childhood literacy, although reading isn’t just for young kids; it’s a lifelong skill, so I like to encourage that,” she said.

A woman of many interests, Forester has a teaching license in elementary education and taught second grade as a student teacher. She has also written a children’s book that was published in 2016 called “Busy Beebo,” about a bumblebee and the value of hard work. 

“I just feel that with my background, I am able to reach out and use my skills and talents to help further literacy and reading, getting kids reading early,” she said.

Forester teamed up with other organizations that make an impact in the community. One organization is “Read Today,” which is KSL TV’s reading initiative. In August, the station held an event to celebrate its summer reading challenge to get kids reading 20 minutes a day. Those who completed the challenge got to attend a Bees baseball game with their family. 

She also volunteers with “My Story Matters,” which works with special populations in the community, interviews them and publishes their story in a book. One group is refugees living in Utah. Having their own their personal story in a printed book is powerful, and it gives them a first reader to practice their language skills. 

Forester helped with an event at Cottonwood high school for refugee students. 

“We interview them and teach them that they can take ownership of their story, that they can overcome hard things,” she said. She enjoys hearing about their experiences. 

Another organization Forester supports is “Reach Out and Read,” which is a nationwide nonprofit. It works to get books into pediatric health care, so medical providers can give a new book to children at well-child visits. More importantly, it encourages families to read aloud with their child. 

“I’ve organized a book drive for them,” said Forester. “It relays a message to parents to begin reading early with them.”

Forester continues her reign as Mrs. Utah through next April and hopes to keep working on literacy causes afterward. She also hopes to do more humanitarian work in the future. As pageants are in her blood, she may be back to compete in others.

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