After making it to first runner-up last year, Yakima native Reina Almon’s time for the crown came Saturday night when she bested 21 other competitors and was named Miss Washington at the Highline Performing Arts Center in Burien.

“I’m very humbled and very proud,” Almon, a West Valley graduate, said in a telephone interview Monday. “It’s a lot of emotions at once.”

Almon, who will turn 22 next month, will compete in the Miss America Pageant in September. This year’s pageant will return to Atlantic City, N.J., where the pageant was originally held, after several years in Las Vegas.

“I’m excited to see the birthplace and all the history of Miss America,” Almon said.

Almon’s win comes six years after Wapato native Elyse Umemoto won the title. Umemoto was second runner-up in the Miss America Pageant in 2008.

Almon, the daughter of Brett and Mary Almon of Yakima, secured her spot in the Miss Washington competition this year after being named Miss Evergreen during the 2013 Miss Washington Sweeper Pageant. That pageant, whose competitors are former local title-holders or runners-up, is the final opportunity to earn spots in the Miss Washington competition.

Almon qualified for that competition because she was Miss Yakima County in 2012. She also served as Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen in 2009.

Family, friends and former teachers have all been sending her supportive Facebook messages and emails. “I’m proud to be representing Yakima County,” she said. “It’s nice to be from a small town where you know everyone.”

Almon, an incoming senior at Eastern Washington University studying government with a pre-law concentration, will be taking the next year off to serve as Miss Washington and make speaking appearances on her platform, “Sustain-Ability: Impacting Tomorrow, Today.”

Almon said she became interested in environmental issues and sustainability after watching a friend deal with environmental-related health issues in high school.

Since then, she’s interned at The Lands Council, a Spokane-based group focused on environmental preservation in the Pacific Northwest. She also blogs on the topic at Reina’s Reign. And she blogs at the same site about her life at Eastern, her do-it-yourself fashion projects and her involvement with pageants.

“It gives me a way to promote the Miss America program and my platform, which are really important to me,” she said.

• Mai Hoang can be reached at 509-759-7851 or at

Editor’s note: This story was updated to add that Almon is a graduate of West Valley High School.