Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College student Natalie Long is the 2008 Homecoming Queen.

Twenty-six queen candidates, each representing an NEO organization, competed for the honor.

The candidates participated in Homecoming activities throughout the week that included a pep-rally, luncheon, personal interview and the annual Homecoming Queen Pageant. Long was crowned during the Coronation Ceremony at half-time of the Golden Norse football game against Navarro, Texas, on Saturday.

Long represented the Engineering Club. A resident of Neosho, Mo., she is the daughter of Tom Hale and Bobbie Pennington of Neosho.

She is a drafting and design major at NEO. Her long-term goals are to procure employment in architectural historic preservation. Her hobbies include photography, drawing, political activism, volunteer work, canoeing, kayaking, reading, researching and traveling.

The first runner up was Grove resident Rebecca Steffenson, the candidate representing the Social Work Club. She is the daughter of Norm and Tammy Steffenson and is majoring in early childhood education. Steffenson plans to attend Oklahoma State University and graduate with a bachelor's degree in special education and early childhood education.

The judges crowned Kate Patching, also of Grove, as second runner up. She represented the National Student Nurses Association. The daughter of Dave and Wendy Patching, Patching is a nursing major at NEO. Following her graduation, she plans to work toward a Bachelor of Science degree. Her long-term goals are to receive her master's in nursing and become a nurse practitioner.

Long, Steffenson and Patching were selected by a panel of three judges. Cindy Morris, executive director of the Miami Area Chamber of Commerce; Tonya Grayson, internal auditor for the Peoria Tribe Gaming Commission; Jill Banzet, NEO alumnus and 2006 Homecoming Queen, served as this year's judges.

The NEO student body elected Maria Buckingham to be this year's Miss Norse Spirit. Buckingham is the Business Leaders of Tomorrow candidate. Buckingham is a physical therapist assistant major. A freshman, she is the daughter of Walter and Gail Buckingham, who reside in Canada.

Presenting the crown and the queen's bouquet were honor attendants Nate Ward and Malarie White.

Ward, 7, is the son of Roger Ward, NEO baseball coach, and Suesan Ward. Malarie, 6, is the daughter of Jeanie White, clerk in the NEO Business Office.