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May 13, 2022

Q + A with Miss Earth 2021

Miss Earth 2021 - Destiny Wagner
Photography by Quilz Tamay

Destiny Wagner is a creative content provider and influencer who presently owns a small smoothie shop in her hometown of Punta Gorda – Belize, where she makes and sells organic shakes and smoothies. She is also a published author and has two books currently available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Destiny has partnered with various brands to create unique content for their social media channels. She is also a published model, who has a passion for start-ups and business development. “Although being an entrepreneur may not be considered the most stable job, it allows me to take calculated risks and I have been blessed for it to allow me to live freely and I am grateful for the journey.”

As an Earth-Warrior, she advocates for the sustainability of marine life and conservation of our natural resources. The manatee research she did with ‘Clear Water Aquarium’ and her interest in the ocean, inspired her to get an Open Water Dive Certification and participate in environmental campaigns.

How does it feel to be the first Belizean to win the Miss Earth title and the first to win any of the four major international beauty pageant titles?

AS: It’s an honor to be the first to win anything! However, I get more excited thinking about the young women after me who will win too! It doesn’t have to be in pageantry but win in life. I hope this win inspires them to pursue their dreams regardless of where they come from. I am not only honored to be a role model for young girls in my country, but I also get to showcase the Belizean culture, lifestyle, and art to the rest of the world. We have been combatting a pandemic for 2 years and that has negatively affected our economy and civic pride. This win truly symbolizes hope, and I am looking forward to continuing to promote Belize in a positive light in hopes of increasing tourism.

Miss Earth 2021 for her Homecoming Motorcade in Belize City

What motivated you to compete for Miss Earth 2021?

AS: I have always loved nature and as a child, my family travelled a lot!  With that being said, I fell in love with beaches, sunsets, jungles, mountains, and snow. My father is also a farmer, so he always emphasized the importance of living off the land and being in sync with the Earth. I didn’t know that my journey would lead me here, but I have been subconsciously preparing for this pageant my entire life. I love my country and it has always been a dream of mine to represent Belize internationally. Coming from such a small country, we are often underrepresented or overlooked in international competitions. We have so much talent that deserves to be showcased and appreciated and I wanted to make sure that people will remember Belize. I did not know I was going to win but I knew I would represent. 

What are the 3 biggest environmental/developmental concerns confronting our country and our people?

AS: Although Belize is at the forefront of sustainability and marine conservation, I believe that we have some domestic concerns that can potentially be our downfall. I am most concerned about pollution, coastal development, and deforestation. As a country, we take pride in our natural resources which has made us a very popular tourist destination. In fact, our economy is built on the tourism industry. If we are cutting our forests and continuously developing on our coast, I’m afraid that our islands could potentially erode, and our country will lose its natural beauty. This will affect our livelihoods. There will be no jobs, food will be scarce, and poverty will increase. It’s important that I use my current platform to spread awareness of these concerns and most importantly, sustainable solutions. 

Now that most of Belize’s Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, how do you think it will affect the way people now interact with nature/the environment?

AS: I think that during the pandemic people including myself realized how much we took outside for granted. With the restrictions being lifted, I believe that people will have much more respect and appreciation for nature. While being in quarantine, I missed the sea and fresh air. Many would say that the pandemic was horrible for humans, which I can attest to.  However, our planet loved it. Reports from all over the world shared similar footage of clear skies and rare sightings of endangered animals roaming freely. I believe that made everyone question their impact when it comes to the deterioration of our planet. Having witnessed those reports and observing for myself, I think we can collectively agree to move forward by being more conscious of our decisions.  

We know you have big plans during your reign as Miss Earth 2021, what environmental issue are you most focused on and why?

AS: I am very pleased to announce that I am working alongside the Belize Tourism Board and the Ministry of Blue Economy to promote  eco-tourism and marine conservation. It’s been an amazing experience working with these ministries and having such a unique role to promote conservation and a sustainable lifestyle within our country. I’m using my platform to show the rest of the world the positive initiatives that we are doing here in Belize. Aside from working with the ministries, I have been actively raising funds for my non-profit, Operation Kingdom. Operation Kingdom aids to combat child hunger and promote education especially in remote areas. If we want to ensure that our country and planet remain safe, we must start educating the youth immediately so that they can grow up and be at the forefront of conservation as well. 

Miss Earth 2021 with students of St. Joseph R.C. Primary School in Toledo as part of Operation Kingdom

Who or what encourages you the most to lead these meaningful conversations about our planet

AS: My love for my country and my love for my community motivate me. Belize is very small and small countries are often overlooked in several aspects including natural disasters and aid. We are a very diverse country, and we have several ethnic groups made up of people of color. We all know that the same event has different effects on different communities which is what motivates me to use my platform to make sure that my country will not be forgotten about or lack anything in the event of a natural disaster or unexpected event. We must be on the forefront of sustainability and conservation because our livelihood depends on it. 

What different initiatives do you have planned during your time and why do you find them important?

AS: I really want to focus on mental health this year. As an ambassador, it’s so important that I connect with the youth in my country and let them know that it’s OK to experience different emotions and that their feelings are valid. It would be impossible for me to convince everyone to participate in the fight for our planet when they are struggling now with the fight within themselves. Poetry has always been used as a coping mechanism for me and is a great way to express yourself in a healthy manner. I am planning on hosting open mic nights and getting the community involved. It’s important that we create safe places for creatives and artists to express themselves.  

What environmental project have you led or been a part of in the past that you are most proud of?

AS: I am very active in my community which has led me to participate in beach clean-ups and the planting of several trees such as mahogany and mangroves.  As a country who suffers from deforestation, it’s a great way for me to inform the public of the importance of trees and the best way to teach someone anything is to show them. Planting our national tree (Mahogany), was very symbolic to me which is why it is one of my proudest moments. Aside from my tree planting events, I am able to have conversations with the decision-makers in Belize and come up with creative ways to spread the message of being eco-friendlier and more conscious of our decisions. 

Miss Earth 2021 planting trees on Earth Day at Chan Chich Lodge

In your lifetime, have you seen environmental change around you? If so, in what ways?

AS: The biggest change I’ve seen is coastal development. I come from Punta Gorda, which is a coastal community, and having travelled throughout Belize as a child, I would always admire the beautiful beaches and trees that we have. Throughout the years when I return to most of these places, I am shocked to see that the beaches are now filled with hotels instead of sand, and Sargassum instead of children playing.  I can’t help but feel as though proper environmental assessments were not being implemented. Several countries have started to prioritize money instead of our natural resources which is a shame, because our natural resources are the real wealth. As Miss Earth, I want to help shed light on these issues. 

As a young professional who is very involved in her community, why do you think community involvement and participation is important? Specific to the environment, how can your peers help? Why do they need to be involved?

AS: It’s important to get our communities involved because we are stronger when we work together. The fight to save our planet is not a one-person job. With everyone working for the same cause we will get better results. We have a responsibility to make sure that the next generation can reap the benefits of Earth’s soil. There are several ways to help lower your carbon footprint.  Something as simple as unplugging our electronics, carpooling, and purchasing from local farmers and vendors, can help protect our planet. 

What’s next for Destiny Wagner?

AS: I will continue to use my platform to advocate for our planet and Belize even when my reign is over. I am also passionate about the arts and creating so I am looking forward to writing my next book as well as getting into the TV and entertainment industry, which would only help my country more and give me a bigger audience to educate.

Miss Earth 2021 – Destiny Wagner

Keep up with more from Destiny’s Miss Earth journey here!

This article was featured in our April 2022 E-Newsletter.