From Cattle Farming to Pageant Queen: A Coastal Advocate All the Way

By Victoria Sagrera, Special Projects Coordinator, Restore or Retreat

I grew up on levees of both rice and crawfish fields along the coast of southern Vermilion Parish. To some that might sound like a boring childhood but to me, it was my own paradise and playground. This unique upbringing greatly influenced the person I have become, as well as my understanding of the importance of Louisiana’s coast and the many unique communities that comprise it.  

I was born into a family which was, and still is, deeply invested in agriculture and the health of our coast and environment. With historical family ties to the cattle industry, my favorite childhood memories were spent “helping” my grandfather vaccinate our cattle, riding the horses with him as the farmers drove the herd, and my daily chore of ensuring there was enough water in the trough. Through these fond experiences, I hoped to one day have a herd of my own. This dream came to a screeching halt after Hurricane Rita claimed our herd as her own.

With the Louisiana Cattle Festival being held in my hometown of Abbeville, I felt the best way to honor the Sagrera Cattle lineage was to represent the state’s beef and dairy industry. I accomplished this goal in 2013 when I was crowned the 65th Louisiana Cattle Festival Queen. I spent the year traveling in promotion of Louisiana’s cattle farmers, the beef and dairy industry of the state and a way of life that I cherished. 

As part of being a festival queen, I participated in a gathering of all fair and festival queens of Louisiana to compete for the state title as part of the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals annual convention. In 2014, while representing the Louisiana Cattle Festival, I was crowned the Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals Queen of Queens. I took full advantage of the opportunity to travel the state to learn about the variety of cultures, industries, commodities and quaint communities that comprise Louisiana. With a continued passion for Louisiana’s coastal environment, I fully immersed myself in travels to regions that defined the term “living off of the land”. My dreams, ambitions, and pride in my home state continued to grow as I traveled; and as that year came to an end, I had a new goal in mind.

With unique knowledge and experience behind me, I wanted to represent the state as a whole and was able to do so after being crowned Miss Louisiana United States 2017. I have reached a broad range of audiences and raised awareness to my personal platform, Heal the Habitat, which highlights my personal and professional passions for coastal environments. After graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, I was able to put my degree and passion to work, sharpen my communication skills through an array of outreach opportunities, and get a better understanding of state policies and procedures as the Public Outreach Intern for the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA). In March of 2017, I became the Special Projects Coordinator for Restore or Retreat, a nonprofit coastal advocacy group that seeks to identify and expedite the implementation of aggressive, large-scale restoration projects to protect the irreplaceable region of the Barataria and Terrebonne Basins. I am thoroughly enjoying expanding my knowledge on state projects, the culture of the bayou region and networking with a large group of people involved in all aspects of coastal Louisiana.

I am still in the midst of this reign and look forward to the remainder of my year with a mission to impact as many people as possible while advancing the message of saving coastal Louisiana. As unordinary as this journey has been, I believe my years spent with titles has greatly contributed to my understanding of Louisiana’s coastal communities and their critical importance to the rest of the nation.