Released: July 02, 2002
Kansas’ County Fairs: Shawnee County Youth Helps Others Collect...Bugs!
ROSSVILLE, Kan. – Each of the 238 insects mounted in Shawnee County 4-Her Rachelle Brown’s case comes with a story. Her adventures in gathering the exhibits range from calling a time-out in the middle of a softball game to catch a Dobson fly to asking the school nurse for a head louse after an epidemic.
"I’ve got a whole freezer full yet to pin," said the 8-year Rossville Rustlers 4-H Club member. "I love the project. It is very time consuming, but it keeps me doing stuff. It definitely teaches patience."
Rachelle, 14, and her mother served as the project superintendent for the 2001 Shawnee County Fair. When other 4-H members began to see her projects, they started to ask questions and become interested.
"We saw her at the fair with these fantastic collections," said Cindy Evans, 4-H parent and Kansas State University Research and Extension Shawnee County agent. "It was simply amazing."
Many younger 4-Hers had limited experience in working with the entomology project, but after viewing Rachelle’s case, Evans said she recognized the young 4-Hers had much more to learn.
"We just called the one who knew what she was doing to help us - Rachelle Brown," Evans said. "She told us to come out to their place since she had everything needed to properly work on the displays."
On June 8, Brown invited six younger 4-Hers to her house to lead an entomology project meeting.
"They asked me to do it," Brown said. "There’s not a whole lot of younger kids in the project, so when I saw they were interested I couldn’t resist."
Each of the 4-Hers brought many specimens with them. They learned about each insect from Brown’s personal experience.
"I answered a ton of questions," she said. "We pinned quite a few - beetles, grasshoppers and flies - and each one requires a different method of pinning."
Learning by doing is the only way to learn, Brown said.
"We brought our bugs from our freezers to pin, label and prepare the cases," Evans said. "She had examples ready with everything laid out to explain the ways to do things."
Passing her skill to others, Brown said she’s excited by the growth experienced in the project. To help the 4-Hers with collections, she had a drawing to give away rare specimens from her collections. Everyone walked away a few bugs stronger.
"She just comes alive," Evans said. "She’s so good at explaining it. It’s good for the boys to hear it from her so they will put it to practice."
With a role model, Evans said the 4-Hers came away with a new appreciation for their project.
"She spurred their interest," Evans said. "While our collections may not be purple ribbon quality, it’s the learning that matters. This is just the way 4-H is supposed to be, as older 4-Hers gain leadership to teach others."
All of the displays will be exhibited at the 2002 Shawnee County Fair in Topeka, July 25-28. For more information, contact the Shawnee County Extension Office at 785-232-0062. For information on other county fairs in Kansas, interested people can visit their local Extension office.
K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.
Cindy Evans is at 785-232-0062