ONTARIO — Lori McNeil, Mrs. Eastern Oregon in the Mrs. Oregon America Pageant, read to a small audience at the Ontario Community Library Tuesday as part of the library’s regular Story Time program.
McNeil’s appearance is part of a self-funded initiative to promote literacy across eastern Oregon. McNeil said she represents eight counties in the Mrs. Oregon America Pageant, including Malheur, Baker, Harney, Union, Wallowa, Umatilla, Grant and Morrow.
For McNeil, who has 18 years under her belt as an educator in the Baker City area, the initiative is about educating kids and parents on the importance of literacy.
“I think smaller rural communities in eastern Oregon have the reputation of not having a lot of resources,” McNeil said. “There are, of course, intelligent people here who can help with the idea that promoting literacy is crucial.”
McNeil read a picture book titled “Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Mystery,” written by Jamie Lee Curtis and illustrated by Laura Cornell, and also had the child in attendance, Cash Troyer, create a sticker book based around the topic of spiders — his choice.
Assistant library director Joyce McCurdy said McNeil’s appearance at the library was an exciting one for promoting literacy in Ontario.
“Literacy can be the pathway to greater success,” McCurdy said.
The 2016 Mrs. Oregon Pageant will take place April 9, with the winner of that competition participating in the Mrs. America Pageant in Las Vegas in August.