Malika Yates wants to bring a new title home to Delaware.
Named Elite Miss Delaware Earth in 2019 and 2020, Yates will compete for the national title of Elite Miss Earth USA 2021 on Jan. 17 in Orlando. During the event, the Miss Earth USA organization requires each of the U.S. state delegates to participate in their own community environmental projects along with a cleanup in partnership with Garbo Grabber and The Clean Earth Project. Contestants will be evaluated by a panel of judges on their leadership potential, communication skills, social media influence and modeling abilities.
Yates grew up working in nature, creating the solid foundation for her environmental activism.
“My platform is the ripple effect. I believe one act of kindness can make the world a better place,” she says, noting that small actions like cleaning up your local beach, carrying a reusable shopping bag or drinking from bamboo straws can make a larger impact than we think.
A Delaware transplant, Yates relocated from New Jersey to attend Wilmington University and planted roots here after graduation. Today, she works with multiple communities at home and around the world through a variety of programs.
After being crowned, Yates founded the Global Ripple Effect Project Inc., a nonprofit teaching students and communities how to live an eco-friendly, healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Through her eco-education program, she empowers students worldwide through teaching and helping them to reach their full potential and transform their communities. She is also the chair of the Newark chapter of the Climate Reality Project, a nonprofit involved in education and advocacy related to climate change.
“I wanted to be the change,” Yates shares.
When she saw the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on Delaware communities, she collaborated with New Castle County Council president Karen Hartley Nagle and The Mary Mother of Hope House III to host a Kindness Matters Community Essential Items Holiday Drive to help communities in need, providing over 3,000 COVID-19 kit (including reusable masks, eco-friendly sanitizer and a vegan snack).
For Yates, who is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, preparing for a pageant is a different experience than it is for other contestants.
“Having a brain injury effects my daily life. I have nonstop headaches and ringing in my head,” she says.
Yates sometimes has difficulty saying a word correctly or remembering the words she means to say.
She also relearned math skills. These challenges slowed her down when it came to her environmental goals and her preparation for the competition. But instead of putting more pressure on herself, she focused on taking her training one step at a time and proving she was as capable as any other contestant.
“With this strength, grace and grit, I am committed to making ripples as the next Elite Miss Earth USA,” she says.
To win would mean everything for Yates, as it would enable her to expand her reach as a role model and environmental activist.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had the crown in our state,” she says, “so I’m trying to bring it home.”
For more information on the competition, visit missearthunitedstates.com/elite.