Lake Andes' Cayla Nelson crowned National America Miss South Dakota Teen 2022

Nelson will be representing South Dakota in Orlando, Florida this fall in the National Miss America Teen Pageant.

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Cayla Nelson crowned Miss South Dakota Teen of 2022 this weekend in Des Moines, Iowa.
Courtesy of Cayla Nelson.

DES MOINES, Iowa — A teenager from Charles Mix County is bringing South Dakota to the national stage.

Cayla Nelson, 16, of Lake Andes, was named National American Miss South Dakota Teen for 2022 at the National American Miss Teen pageant, which took place in Des Moines, Iowa, this weekend. At the event, she also won optional awards for Runway, Casual Wear, Photogenic and Dream Model.

Nelson will be the first Miss South Dakota Teen to compete at the national competition, which is held in Orlando, Florida, this fall, due to what she described as a lack of interest in the past.

“It’s a really big opportunity,” she said. “I’ll be the first person to represent South Dakota on a national scale.”

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Cayla Nelson, 16, accepts the title of Miss South Dakota Teen.
Courtesy of Cayla Nelson.

The honor has opened Nelson up to multiple scholarship opportunities, as well as a national allowance, free photo shoots and discounts at various stores.


Nelson said she’s excited to travel to Florida, as she’s never been outside of South Dakota before and will get to know the other 50 girls from across the nation.

The Lake Andes teen plans on homeschooling the 2022-23 school year to be able to travel across the state and speak at elementary schools in what she calls the “Little Minds Dream Big” project, seeking to encourage children to chase their aspiration.

“I just really want kids to know their dreams aren’t too small,” Nelson said.

Looking farther down the road, Nelson plans to study child psychology and hopes to stay closer to home for college.

Cassie Williams joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2022. To get in contact with Cassie about potential stories, feel free to email her at
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