Entomology Department Helps Youths Practice for 4-H, FFA Judging Contests with Annual Clinic

Shelby Kilpatrick, left, and Marshall Sullivan, right, teaching participants about the basics of entomology, as well as pinning and insect collection techniques. Photo by Rob Williams

COLLEGE STATION, Texas—More than 170 members of the Future Farmers of America and 4-H youth programs statewide and their agricultural science teachers, adult leaders and county agents spent a rainy Saturday morning learning about entomology, entomology contests, and testing their insect identification skills in the Heep Center during the Entomology Judging Clinic on Saturday, March 4.

The annual half-day clinic is designed to help 4-H and FFA students with skills to collect, prepare, and identify insects, to learn about their biology and relationships to different environments, all in preparation for  for  upcoming contests.

The clinic opened with a welcome session by Professor and Associate Department Head for Academic Programs, Dr. Pete Teel. During the session, Teel introduced participants to the clinic and its design and encouraged students to take what they had learned and apply it to the upcoming contests.

Participants were then sent into three concurrent sessions on topics such as insect identification basics, different collection and mounting techniques, and a leaders-only session on building reliable and lasting resources for success as an entomology team.

The newest addition to this year’s clinic included having two practice rooms open with integrated FFA/4-H mock contests where students could test what they had learned throughout the morning and a larger, more interactive pinning and mounting workshop.

Dr. Pete Teel in front of a class

Dr. Pete Teel speaking to participants about the clinic.

Participants also got the chance to view numerous insects in the orders of Coleoptera, Diptera, Hemiptera, and Hymenoptera in the upstairs teaching labs, as well as a room dedicated to learning how to identify specimens from additional assorted insect orders.

At noon, the group reconvened in Room 101 to discuss the contest and its rules and for a question and answer session. During the session, student panelists answered questions from the audience such topics as the various careers in entomology, a day in the life of a college student at A&M, and entomology in general.

Volunteer Shelby Kilpatrick, a senior Entomology major and former 4-H member,  has been involved with volunteering for the clinic for four years as a student and said the clinic is a great way for youth to learn about entomology.

“I really enjoyed the 4-H entomology clinic. It really is a great way for us to share our knowledge and to promote the department and encourage the study of entomology,”” she said. “We try to make it a great learning experience for the kids.”

Student pinning an insect

Students also got the chance to try their hands pinning and mounting insects during a hands-on session.

Leader Madison Landreth from Midway ISD was very pleased with this year’s clinic and said it was a great learning experience for her and her students.

“I think this is a great workshop and like the hands on aspect of this clinic,” she said. “I loved that the kids get good practice and the volunteers were very helpful.”

“It was very exciting to see lots of the younger students being excited about entomology and the ag field in general,” volunteer Stephanie Rudolph said.

“Participants from the clinic are known to score very well in subsequent contests, and this avenue of interest in entomology is increasing the number of freshman Entomology majors,” Teel said.  “Our student volunteers for this program provide a personal level of engagement with the clinic participants that is most welcoming and helpful.  They are a very positive connection to building future entomologists.”

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