My 4-H Story


County Fair 2014

My 4-H experience this year has been very different than last year. For example, last year everything was a new experience, while this year I felt more comfortable knowing what to expect.

Last year, I focused more on community service in outdoor education. Due to having a severe case of Lyme disease this spring, I was unable to help out at Two Coyotes summer camp as I had hoped. Instead I was more involved in the fair board and became the chair of a committee. This experience was very different from last year since I have more responsibilities.

For my project, I created and displayed a large collection of my model aircraft and tanks at the New Milford Public Library. I also made a scale model of the M3 Stuart tank that sits on the green in town to educate the residents of New Milford on the history of one of their most interesting landmarks. I think that working on this display is a great example of how 4-H has positively influenced my life, as working on it really improved my attitude and helped me feel more productive. I enjoyed it so much that I worked on another project that I also displayed at the library. This time I exhibited my collection of vintage Star Wars action figures and merchandise.


Introduction to Robotics Class 2015

In addition to working on exhibits, I also attended a 4-H sponsored class where I learned how to build and program robots to do small tasks. This was really interesting and something that I never would have done unless I was enrolled in 4-H. Now I feel very intrigued by robots and would love to learn more about them

Overall, I think 4-H is a wonderful program that has encouraged me to be more active in my community as well as helping myself as an individual.

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Phil Keaggy at Building 24

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My dad and I with Phil in September 2013

On September 18, my family and I drove four hours south to see master guitarist Phil Keaggy perform live at Building 24 in Wyomissing, PA. He is renowned as being one of the best guitar players in the world, as well as being the lead singer of the band Glass Harp in the 1970’s. Since then, he has pursued a solo career where he prefers to play more laid back acoustic pieces that are nevertheless stunning.

After arriving early, we sat down to eat before the show. Within a few minutes, Phil came over and shook our hands and thanked us for coming to see him. Regardless of how great his music is, I always enjoy seeing Phil exclusively because of his fun and upbeat personality, as well as his everlasting humbleness to talk to the people that come to see him, even though he has played in front of crowds of thousands. After we finished eating, it was about time to hear Phil perform. As always, Phil played the guitar almost flawlessly and his singing was just as good as it was 40 years ago! The complete list of songs is as follows:

  1. Mercy (to be released on his next album)
  2. Legacy
  3. Can You See Me
  4. Village Bells
  5. Make You Feel My Love
  6. Fare Thee Well
  7. Chalice
  8. Shades of Green
  9. Your Love Broke Through
  10. Love Divine
  11. Here Comes the Sun
  12. Salvation Army Band
  13. Hold Me Jesus
  14. What a Day
  15. True Believers
  16. My Auburn Lady
  17. Let Everything Else Go

Bldg24PhilKeaggy_FB7-15AThe song list was absolutely perfect, with my favorites being Mercy, Can You See Me, Chalice, Hold Me Jesus, and True Believers. Although I have seen him three times, this was by far the best, as his song choices and singing seemed far superior. I would love to see him again, and I encourage anyone interested to try to see him as soon as possible.

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Lieutenant Hornblower – Book Review

1465355The chronological sequel to Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, Lieutenant Hornblower is a perfect example of how a sequel can stick close the premise of the first book but still seem fresh and new. Unlike the first book which was a collection of short stories, the sequel is a much longer cohesive story. The action seemed more realistic and less frequent, and the book was written better on a whole. Because of the plots cohesiveness, there was far more character development for each character, as well as more characters overall.

The book is centered mostly on the H.M.S Renown, where newly promoted Lieutenant Hornblower has been stationed. At the start of its voyage, Lieutenant William Bush is also sent to work aboard the ship. Unlike the first book which was told from Hornblower’s point of view, this book is Bush’s side of the story.  Bush is soon joined by the ship’s captain, who is quickly revealed to be a raving lunatic. After a series of events which further prove that the captain is insane, the crew faces a difficult choice as to whether they should attempt to overthrow him as commander of the ship, or to bear his brutal punishments and fits of rage. However, when the captain mysteriously falls down a flight of stairs while searching for mutineers in the dark, the crew is seemingly forced to take control of the ship and face possible court martial.

Although I enjoyed the first book in the series, I did have many complaints about it. I had none of the same issues with the second, which I believe to be one of the best naval adventure stories ever written. A well written book that made sense, along with a fun and intriguing plot. I would give this book a 9.5/10.

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Mr. Midshipman Hornblower – Book Review

MrMidshipmanHornblowerMr. Midshipman Hornblower is a historical fiction novel written by esteemed naval author C. S. Forester. The book is centered around the title character, Midshipman Horatio Hornblower, a 17 year old who joins the British navy in 1794 during the Napoleonic Wars. The story follows his adventures in the navy as he moves up in rank and prestige.

One of the first things that the reader will notice is that the author uses extremely accurate and complex naval terms, which may confuse some readers, but definitely adds to the authentic feel of the book. The reader will also notice that the author does a fantastic job of bringing the world of Hornblower to life, and making it feel very relatable. I feel like my understanding of life on-board a ship in the 18th century is far greater because of this book. In addition to being very educational, the book features great characters and a fantastic plot. The only problem is that the book is broken up into 10 short stories. This really hampered the flow and progression of the story, as each short story was limited to about 25 pages. However, this did enable the reader to see the larger picture of life at sea. The action was also great, but there was a little bit too much of it, as each short story had one action scene and the process got very stagnant.

Overall, Mr. Midshipman Hornblower was a great, educational, and fun read which I rate a 9/10

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Horseshoe Crab Tagging

IMG_3967On June 16, 2015, at 11:30 PM, we arrived at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, CT. The moon was shining brightly through the clouds, and dozens of flashlight beams scanned along the sand and water. We had come to tag some of the hundreds of horseshoe crabs that would crawl ashore with the high tide that night. After about 30 minutes of walking and getting prepared for the tagging, we finally walked down to the waters edge to see how many crabs had decided to greet us. In some spots the whole ground was a living mass of crabs, as dozens slowly crawled out of the water. Everyone quickly snatched them up, hastily measuring them with a ruler, rating the quality of their shell, and finally poking a hole in their shell with a special tool. Then, we inserted the small round tags into the hole and wrote down all of the information. After just a few minutes, we had run out of tags and were just keeping count of the horde of crabs with tally marks. Occasionally, there would be piles of crabs four high in one area. The whole beach was completely covered in high grass and floating seaweed, making the crabs crawling out of the water seem even more mystical.

I have never seen a more alien looking creature than the horseshoe crab, and doubt I ever will see anything more unusual outside of a zoo. Their many crawling legs and long pointy tail swing around wildly when they are picked up, making measuring very difficult. Although the crabs are completely docile, I always felt a little uneasy about picking them up! Even though they don’t intentionally try to hurt anyone, I did get my finger stuck in the hinged midsection of the shell. The crab was very agitated and squirming around which caused extreme pain in my finger. After that I was a little more cautious about where I put my fingers!

The whole experience was very interesting and adventurous, and learning more about the crabs was also fascinating. I would love to see the crabs again, but I doubt that it could top this experience!


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Star Wars: Lando Book #1 Review

STWLANDO2015001cov_BLaunched as a short mini-series of 5 issues, the Star Wars: Lando comic series was announced on the opening day of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim on April 16, 2015. The first issue was published on July 8, 2015, just a few months after its announcement. Although most fans were excited by the new comic, expectations were very low compared to the other ongoing comic series at the time. Nevertheless, the issue was still a very fun comic, and a must read for Star Wars fans.

The story follows a very desperate and indebted Lando, and his cyborg companion, Lobot, attempting to repay their their debts to a ruthless crime lord. The story was intriguing and felt like classic Star Wars, something that is very important to me. The comic also provides a simple backstory for one of the main characters, which I found fascinating. Also, Lando still has his over the top swagger, even though he is horrifically indebted to an evil-doer. Overall, I loved the story.

At first the art seemed very sub-par to me, but I soon grew to love the more artistic style. The art seemed to fit Lando’s more diplomatic and smooth style, in stark contrast to the more militaristic style of Darth Vader, and the Star Wars comic series. It was very interesting to see such a different aspect of the Star Wars universe.

I loved Lando #1 and will definitely purchase the other books in the series. I would give the first issue a 9/10.

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Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

With my family in front of the Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star

With my family in front of the Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located in Chantilly, VA, is one of the largest and most impressive exhibits of historic aircraft in the world. All of the planes are contained in a giant hangar-like 760,000 square foot facility. It includes over 150 aircraft of all different types, including: huge passenger planes such as the Concorde, small and agile racing planes, propeller driven fighters from WWII, to modern day jet fighters. One plane in particular, the X-35 Lightning II, is a prototype jet fighter that has not even entered service yet. I felt very privileged to see the new jet before it had entered service.

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The F-14 Tomcat that had participated in the infamous 1989 Gulf of Sidra Incident, where 2 US jets shot down 2 Libyan MiG-23 Floggers, was also on display. Also included in the jets section of the museum were the F-86 Sabre, T-33A Shooting Star, F-4 Phantom, F-8 Crusader, and many others.

One of the most important aircraft at the museum is the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. It is one of only 2 planes to have used the atomic bomb in combat. The other WWII planes include: the P-47, P-38, FW-190, Me-163, Ar-234 (the only surviving aircraft of its kind), Hurricane, F6F, P-26, OS2U, and several more, some of which can only be seen at the museum because no others have survived.

I’ve had the privilege to visit this museum twice with the most recent visit during our family vacation in May. I really wanted to go back again to see the largest collection of historical aircraft in the US since I missed so much on my first visit! No matter what kind of aircraft you are interested in, the Udvar-Hazy Center is for you. Even with no interest in airplanes, the massive spectacle of many giant planes will make anyone’s day!


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