10/21/05 — Blue ribbon bugcatchers

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Blue ribbon bugcatchers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 21, 2005 1:49 PM

Northeast Elementary School fifth-grader Reagan Herndon said she became "hysterical" when she found out the school's Insect Club took first place in the science competition at the N.C. State Fair.

"It was a little room just for the bugs and I was jumping up and down," she said.

The display featuring about 60 different types of insects has been on display all week at the fair, which ends Sunday. Judging was based on the number of specimens, condition, neatness and accuracy, said club adviser and fifth-grade teacher Mary Bruton.

The students collected bugs for the display. Each had to then be identified and classified by scientific order.

Insect study isn't part of the fifth-grade curriculum, Mrs. Bruton said, so the club meets on its own time several days a week after school. She has led similar groups for 10 years, five of those at Northeast.

Open only to fifth-grade students, there are currently 15 members in the club.

Student Parker Williford said he had looked forward to becoming a fifth-grader so he could be a part of the club.

"I always liked collecting bugs and I just wanted to be in it a really long time," he said.

Classmate Tyler Mooring said, "I like finding out the bugs' names and what family they were in."

"I like just catching bugs and finding out what they were," said Logan Harrison.

Parker said he takes advantage of a large field behind his house to find interesting specimens. Tyler said he often has luck when he goes searching behind a local baseball dugout.

Reagan said her favorite place to find insects is between and under a screen in the garage at her house.

Once collected and before being mounted, the bugs must first be preserved, Mrs. Bruton said.

"We put them in the freezer for a few days" to do that, Parker said. Then they are mounted on a display board.

This is the fourth time the school's Insect Club has had an entry at the state fair. They have won blue ribbons three times and a red ribbon once.

In addition to receiving this year's blue ribbon, there was also a $50 prize. Mrs. Bruton said she hopes to use the money to have T-shirts made for the club members.

To participate in the Insect Club, Mrs. Bruton said students must also be affiliated with a 4-H club. 4-H leaders visit frequently, helping students learn as well as complete applications for different competitions.

Other advisors to the club are teachers Denise Pittman and Phyllis Davis, as well as several parent volunteers.

In another piece of good news for the club, Mrs. Bruton learned this week that she is the recipient of the North Carolina Entomological Society Outstanding Elementary/Secondary Teacher Award.

The award is given annually to recognize excellence in science education by teachers who demonstrate creative use of insects and other arthropods in the classroom.

She will receive a certificate, a paperweight, a one-year membership to the Entomological Society, and a $100 gift certificate to purchase materials. She will be honored at the state banquet in Raleigh on Nov. 8.