For over 70 years the De Soto Heritage Festival has celebrated the beauty and talent of a select group of special young women from the community by naming them to the De Soto Queen’s Court. Candidates are recommended by the community and then the Hernando De Soto Historical Society makes its choices on the basis of character, appearance, scholastic ability, high morals, and personality. The current De Soto Queen’s Court serves as good-will ambassadors for the Hernando De Soto Historical Society and Manatee County through the Spring of 2014.
Madison Taylor Brown
Madison Taylor Brown is the 20 year-old daughter of Maryrose Martin and the late David Brown. She has blonde hair, green eyes and is a 2012 graduate of Dr. Earl J. Lennard High School. While in high school she actively participated in Future Farmers of America, receiving numerous distinguished degrees, she participated in the Florida Strawberry Festival Plant Show and Sale and earned the American FFA Degree in 2013. Currently Madison is attending Hillsborough Community College. Her hobbies include hunting whitetail deer, saltwater fishing, line dancing, horseback riding, horticulture and spending quality time with friends and family. In the future she has plans to get her Associates Degrees in Science, then transfer to the University of Florida to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Management in Agricultural and Natural Resources.
Brianna Dawn DiTommaso
Brianna Dawn DiTommaso is the 18 year-old daughter of Angelo and Deborah DiTommaso. She has auburn hair, brown eyes and is a 2013 graduate of Manatee High School. While in high school she was a member of the Reinaunce Girls Club and Key Club for 2-1/2 years, received the White “M” for academic achievement for three years, was selected as a 2013 Golden Herald nominee in Sports, and was a dance officer on the Sugar Canes Dance Team. Currently Brianna is attending the State College of Florida. Her hobbies include dancing, boating and crafting. In her spare time she enjoys being a volunteer dance teacher for children with special needs. In the future she has plans to continue her education at Auburn University to study Veterinary Medicine, graduate, start her own practice here locally, and have a family.
Stephanie Anne MaConnell
Stephanie Anne MacConnell is the 21 year-old daughter of Rory and Jennifer MacConnell. She has dark blonde hair, blue eyes and is a 2010 graduate of Braden River High School. In addition to receiving numerous academic honors in high school, Stephanie was also on the Swim Team, a member of Future Business Leaders of America (as the Treasurer) and Future Farmers of America. Currently Stephanie is attending the University of South Florida in Sarasota. Her hobbies include swimming, crafting and baking. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering for her Church by working in the nursery. She also likes to spend quality time with her family and friends. In the future she plans to continue her education, graduating with a Master Degree in Elementary Education, and ultimately teaching at an elementary school in Manatee County.
Melissa Deana McFall
Melissa Deana McFall is the 19 year-old daughter of Thomas and Pamela McFall. She has brown hair, brown eyes and is a 2013 graduate of Braden River High School. While in high school she served as Editor on the Board of Directors of the Key Club, Assistant Editor on the school newspaper, and a member of the Student Government Association and National Honor Society. She also received numerous academic accolades, including the Golden Herald Award in English, and graduating in the top 10% of her class. Currently Melissa is a Selby Scholar and is attending the University of South Florida in Sarasota. Her hobbies include volunteering and reading. In the future she has plans to transfer and further her education at the University of Central Florida, where she will obtain a Masters Degree in Industrial Psychology. Later, she would like to pursue a doctorate degree, and her dream job is to become a professor and teach at a university.
Hannah Kaine Rowland
Hannah Kathline Rowland is the 19 year-old daughter of Zeke and Kelly Eckersen. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and is a 2013 graduate of Lakewood Ranch High School. While in high school she was a Bright Future’s Medallion recipient, a 3-year Varsity Cheerleader and Co-Captain, a 2-year All-American Cheerleader, a Senior Yearbook staff member, a member of the Junior and Senior Advisory Board, and a Student Aide for children with special needs. Her hobbies include gymnastics, anything outdoors, and reading. When she has spare time Hannah volunteers for Florida Blood Services, Students Working Against Tobacco, and is a board member of the Justin Rowland Foundation. In the future she has plans to get her degree in Biological Science from Florida State University, then return to Manatee County to begin her career as a Physician’s Assistant at a local hospital.
Rachel Lee Schmitt
Rachel Lee Schmitt is the 18 year-old daughter of Larry and Dana Schmitt. She has strawberry blonde hair, green eyes and is a 2013 graduate of Manatee High School. While in high school she received numerous academic accolades, including receiving the White “M” Award, and was the Renaissance Academic Achievement recipient. In addition, she was selected as a 2013 Golden Herald nominee in Music, and was the Captain of the Sugar Canes Dance Team. Currently Rachel is attending the University of South Florida in Tampa. Her favorite activities are singing and dancing, but she also loves to read. Being an English Education Major, she believes that reading is a great way to expand your horizons…and she just loves to pick up a new book! In the future she has plans to continue her education with a dual major in Math and English Education, graduating and then becoming an English teacher or work in the field of Communications.
Kara Jean Noel Varnadore
Kara Jean Noel Varnadore is the 19 year-old daughter of Barbara Varnadore. She has brown hair, brown eyes and is a 2013 graduate of Palmetto High School. While in high school she won numerous academic and Future Farmers of America awards, including: graduating in the top 20% of her class with a 3.62 GPA, on the Honor Roll for four years, and held the FFA Recorder position for two years, Parliamentarian for one year, and was the Vice President of her Chapter FFA in her senior year. Through this program she was given the opportunity to raise and show cattle, which she did successfully for 7 years. Currently Kara is attending Manatee Technical Institute, where she is enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program. Her hobbies include cooking, working with animals and photography. Her future plans are to travel and experience culinary diversities, eventually becoming a chef in a five-star restaurant.
Jerocoiya Kristine Waiters
Jerocoiya Kristine Waiters is the 19 year-old daughter of Jerome and Stephanie Waiters. She has brown hair, brown eyes and is a 2013 graduate of Bradenton Christian School. While in high school she received numerous awards in music, was selected as a 2013 Golden Herald nominee in Music, and was the Captain of the Cheer Team. Currently Jerocoiya is attending the State College of Florida, where she is on the Dean’s List–which entails maintaining a grade point average of 3.5 and higher. Her hobbies include playing the trumpet and dancing modern ballet. If and when she has spare time, she enjoys volunteering for the Awana’s Club of America and spending quality time with her family and friends. In the future she has plans to transfer and further her educational experiences at Florida State University, where she will obtain a Doctorate Degree and become a Nurse Practitioner.
Brianne Nicole Wilson is the 21 year-old daughter of Terry and Kimlyn Wilson. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and is a 2011 graduate of Manatee High School. While in high school she was a member of FCCA, played (and won awards) for the volleyball team, and was actively involved in an outreach program for Bradenton’s homeless. Currently Brianne is attending the State College of Florida. Her hobbies include acting, art, yoga and volleyball. In her spare time she enjoys painting, drawing, yoga and acting. With her acting she also recently had the opportunity to play a part in an independent film produced in Washington, D.C. In the future she has plans to continue her education, obtaining a Business Degree and then seeing where that leads her.