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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Fun with Insect Collecting

It has been a slow year for us with 4H...we spent a year in California exploring.  We used a lot of the skills we have learned over the years to make it interesting but did not get involved in a 4H group for this short time.  I guess one of our biggest regrets will be that we never thought to at least visit a group while on the West Coast.

However, once we got back to Texas, we jump right back into our projects.

Today we met with Ms. Molly to explore her property for insects.  She had convinced us that Sean needed to turn in a collection for contest.  This only gave us less than a month to collect 60 insects!  This day set aside for collecting was good start!

A short lesson on collecting and pinning

Checking the pool!

Then around her house:

Then they explored a pond!

 They got a little distracted by the discovery of the stages of frog life:

 But quickly got back to the task at hand!

Would flowers be a distraction too?

Only if you do not look closely!

 I would say they left no stone (OR DOG!) unturned!

Thanks, Ms. Molly!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Entomology Contest 2015

Up before the crack of dawn...the boys were pumped and ready to go...they studied along the way.

This was Henry's first year in the senior division and he joined the team at the last minute to make sure Sean's group would have enough members to compete.  He had not had a lot of time to study and he really was concerned.  I was very proud of him for volunteering to participate as this is really not his project.

We arrived and the contest went quickly once it started.  Most of the youth were out within 30 minutes.  Henry lingered trying to remember as many insects as possible.  Sean did a good job and was confident when he came out of the testing room.

The teams must identify common name and order.  Then they must determine where the insects are most often located and if they are beneficial or pests.  Then there is a written portion of the test for general knowledge of insects.  The seniors must answer 100 questions all together.

The youth then had about an hour to keep was a great day for insect discoveries.  It all started with the dead tree in the big open courtyard.  The youth found termites and other insects in the dying tree.

That jump started the hunt.  Several in the group brought their collection tools and began looking in all the normal locations.  Here are a few of their finds:

After all the fun, the results were in and the group did a great job.  Ms. Molly said it was the first time she has known all of her participants taking home some type of ribbon...individual or team.  Everyone went away with smiles!

Our Seniors won 2nd in the team division and are headed to the state competition in June!  And as individuals, we had:

Nicolas – 3rd individual
Sean – 4th individual
Henry – 5th individual

I have to also send a congratulations to the Wilson County team...great job!  We look forward to seeing you at the competition in June.  Also, I was so happy to see you recognize your mascot...we should always be ready to welcome in the next generation of budding entomologists!  So sweet!

Then our Intermediate Teams took:
2nd Place Team – Ian, Jack, Nicolas
3rd Place Team – Hannah, Mack, Brian

Intermediate Individuals:
Hannah – 1st
Jack – 2nd  (who competed as an intermediate at the last minute...way to go!)
Nicolas – 4th

We did not have a junior team this year...but we have some amazing young beginners who did a great job!

Elina – 1st place (with a perfect score!  She actually tied with another individual...had to identify 5 more insects and won first place do to her amazing spelling of these insects!  Not bad for her first year in the contest!)
William – 4th place (with a near perfect score!-He left before I could get a good picture!)

We are so proud of all the participants...the scores were very close...everyone did an amazing job!

And for those who did not compete and waited patiently...we thank are some photos of them patiently waiting throughout the morning!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What Happened to 2015?

WOW!  I have been lacking in the 4H blog these early months of 2015.  I cannot believe I have not sat down to talk about our 4H adventures.  It has been a crazy year for us personally, but 4H goes on.

I realized my absence from the blog when I met a new mom and told her about some of our past projects.  I told her she could go to my blog to see some of our fun over the years.

I knew it had been a while since I posted ... so here I am ... a brief review of the last 3 months in 4H ...



Our Entomology spin off club met to go over a review of the orders.  I am so thankful for a great instructor who makes it interesting for the youth.  Sean is the only one who goes to the meetings for our family.  I just cannot keep him away as he loves insects so much.


The boys were not able to go to the monthly meeting this month but wanted to learn more about falconry.  SO...I was enlisted to go in their place.  I have enjoyed the project so did not mind.  We learned about taking care of sick birds and how to keep them healthy.  We also learned about their mew, which is one of the primary ways to keep one's falcon healthy.

I love to watch the handlers with their falcons.  They are so calm and is easy to see that the animals and handlers have a mutual trust for each other.


Henry was able to spend an afternoon learning new photography techniques.  He especially liked to see how to compose a still life and work with various backdrops.  He turned out some nice photos that he hopes to turn in for contest.

Consumer Decision Making

This is a new project for our family.  We had heard about it for years but just never got involved.  All the boys seem to enjoy it a lot.  They like the idea of finding the best quality at the right price.  The organizer for this project has them out in the "field" to practice.  They actually enjoy going to various stores to price compare for a given scenario.


Club meetings are always a good way to meet with others in the area.  Our club leader is always good about sharing information.  She has been trying to organize a community service project as well as a photography outing for months but the rain keeps us from making this happen.  We will continue to try in the months to come.  So, she shared some photography tips using different ISO settings for our cameras.

Public Speaking

Another new project for our boys this year.  I will admit I forced them to go kicking and screaming.  I told them from the start that they would not need to enter a contest but to be open to learn a new skill.  A 4H alumni was teaching the workshops and I thought it would be a good experience.  They do have to admit that it was a good lesson for them and maybe I can convince them to actually enter at the local level next year.

Rodeo Time!

Our club manager decided we needed to organize a pre-Rodeo event for the county.  What better way to rodeo than a dance!  She was amazing...getting everything set up.  We had no idea how much she did until the boys arrived "early" to help set up.  She even took the boys as I could not go with the younger ones (although they were was just too much for me and late into the night.).  The older boys had such a great time dancing.  They also helped set up and clean up.  They did not get home until after midnight and they were exhausted but wanted to tell me everything!

Sean and Henry were able to participate in youth rodeo tours.  They arrived at the grounds at 7am and stayed throughout the day to ensure their group of children made it safely around the rodeo.  All the youth tour guides helped over 18,000 children through the grounds in five days.  Awesome job!


Another trip to be with the birds but I was not able to attend with the boys.  Michael took them instead.  He took pictures and I realized I missed the workshop for me.  They had the most sweet looking falcon.  It was a marlin and as soon as I saw the pictures, I was hooked...I think I want to be a falconer now!

The boys also learned how to work leather to form jesses and straps for the falcon.  I was very impressed with their work.  Now we just need to find a young falcon to tame!


We set up a booth at a Botanical Gardens night event.  We even had live insects and tarantulas to share.  Sean did a great job sharing information about the rhinoceros beetle grub he held for the crowds.  I enjoyed being able to show the fascinating life cycle of the lady beetle.  Nick and Ian did a great job talking to the participants and answering questions.  We have a very knowledgeable group of budding entomologists!

Consumer Decision Making

Sean and Henry were on a team as they headed out for contest.  Edward was the lone Junior who was surprised that he was even competing.  He was really hoping this was just an informative opportunity.  We decided it would be good for him to go along and participate.

The boys had to evaluate several products...hiking boots, sleeping bags, printers, gift cards and fast food restaurants.  The basic scenario was that a family was preparing for a vacation.  I thought it was great that it was such an every day situation.  It is contests like this that make me proud to be involved in 4H...I like knowing that the youth are learning life skills in their projects.

Sean and Henry were pleased to be a part of such a great team.  They found out at the end of the day that their team were awarded third place and a spot in the state contest in June!  They could not have been more pleased to also learn their team mate (Erin) also won first place overall and was given a $10,000 scholarship!  Awesome job!



Henry had a hard time deciding but chose several photos to enter into the county contest.  He is waiting to hear the results.  He also picked from these to turn in for the district contest.  Hopefully, we will hear back on that contest by mid-April.

I had the great privilege of judging the county level entries (not any of the categories Henry entered) and I was very impressed with all the amazing photos.  Our county has some great photographers!

County Round Up

The boys did not participate in any of the contest at this level.  We actually thought we would be out of town.  However, I was asked to be a judge and made plans to do this.  In the end Michael had to go in my place.  He enjoyed listening to the public speaking presentations.  He said he was even moved by an original poem recited by one of the youth.  Maybe I can convince one of the boys to enter next year.


4H Capitol Day is one of our favorite family events.  It is the one event that Michael has always been able to attend.  He had to make a special effort this year, but he made it happen so the tradition goes on.

This year we went for the first time for Bexar county.  Michael and the boys were able to go to the offices for our representatives.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be a busy day at the capitol, and they were not able to meet with the youth.  The boys were able to meet with the staff.  I hate to say that it was a disappointment.  AND...most of all...they were all disappointed that were not able to meet with our new governor.

One thing that did happen...the boys were all given a Fiesta medal from one of the reps.  There were also several 4H booths set up around the capitol to exhibit some of the projects.

AND...a mariachi band happened to arrive to perform on the capitol steps and in the rotunda.  They were also able to go about the capitol and listen in on the business of the day.  We look forward to another opportunity in the future.


Sean was able to attend an entomology workshop at Texas A&M University.  This is our second year to attend.  This time Sean went alone, however, this did not stop him from enjoying himself.  He learned more tricks for remembering the insects and their orders.  He also had a good talk with Prof. Teel of the department.  Sean continues to get excited about the thought of attending the university to seek a career in entomology.

Community Service

We crossed over town and joined the Helotes group to set up Easter baskets for 15 dialysis patients.  I was so glad we were able to attend as there was not a lot of help.  I even had the opportunity to run to the store for extra supplies.

The best part was seeing the generosity of those who came.  When we realized we did not have enough supplies, everyone chipped in a little money so we could have enough for all the baskets.  We were a little disappointed that we were not able to deliver the baskets to the patients but we found out that only adults can visit patients.  BUT...we know that the baskets will be well received.  Praying that they all know that we will be thinking about them this Easter.

SO...that is what the first three months of the year held for our family and 4H.  There is so much more that happens around our house but I think 4H will always play at least a small part in our days.  Thankful for seeing how we can "make the best better."