PURCHASE LINE: Brothers take top prize in 4H forestry competition
October 25, 2013 11:00 AM
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PURCHASE LINE — The heights that students at Purchase Line High School are reaching by doing competitions through 4-H are going national.

Two brothers at Purchase Line, senior Thomas Brady and sophomore Caleb Brady, began preparing for a national 4-H forestry competition last April. All of their hard work, studying and practice paid off because they brought home the top prize in the state and the nation by winning the National 4-H Forestry Invitational with the highest team score. The Bradys earned first place for Pennsylvania, the first since the competition began in 1980.

During the boys’ first month of preparation, Thomas said, “We started studying using a mixture of book and field work. We would also meet with our adviser, Debbie Biesel.”

As July came around, the boys began their trip to Jacksons Mill, W.Va. During the competition, the participants were not allowed near each other except during the team section.

For Thomas, the most challenging part was “the measurements,” and the easiest was “the quiz bowl where we were tested on our forestry knowledge.” 

In contrast, Caleb Brady said, “The written test was the hardest and tree identification was the easiest.” 

To be successful in the competition, the boys had to learn about the logging industry, more than 200 kinds of trees, insects and diseases that attack trees in Pennsylvania, how to make measurements and how to use maps to plot the courses of the competition.

Thomas, Caleb and their teammate, Jesse Isenberg of United High School, advanced to the national level from the Pennsylvania competition. Isenberg serves as vice president of operations for the Pennsylvania State 4-H Council.

Normally the top four individuals compete at the national level, but their younger brother Ethan, an eighth-grader, who placed fourth, was only 12 years old at the time and individuals must be 15 or older to compete at the national level.

Thomas joined 4-H when he was 8 and was first introduced to forestry by Biesel. He also competes in the 4-H wildlife competition and community service activities.

Caleb began 4-H when he was 12 years old and said, “Thomas did it and it looked fun. I wanted to know trees for hunting so I chose forestry.” Along with Thomas, Caleb also participates in the 4-H wildlife competition.

According to Caleb, other people should join 4-H because “it’s a good experience.” 

The 4-H Club that the boys attend is Marion Center Handy Helpers.

John Brady, the boys’ father and industrial arts teacher, said, “I didn’t expect them to do as well as they did on the national level. Most teams were older and some were even forestry students.”

As Thomas explained earlier, the boys began studying in April, and Brady said of his sons’ competition, “I was really surprised at the depth they went into with forestry management and practice. It took three full days of competition to cover all of the material.” 

The boys had their dad as a supervisor in the competition, so he got to see everything firsthand. Brady said, “Their mother and I were both very proud of them.” 

Thomas and Caleb put a lot of work, time, and effort into the forestry competition and both will continue to spend much of their free time in 4-H.

Anyone wanting to join 4-H can contact Biesel or find the Marion Center Handy Helpers on Facebook.

For more information on 4-H, go to www.4-h.org.


Science teacher Michael Thom’s science and technology students completed a forensic science research project about a mummy of their choice. Students were allowed to work in groups and some opted to work alone.

The mummies that were presented were the Yde Girl, ᅱtzi the Ice Man, King Tutankhamun and the Ice Maiden. Groups used Prezi, Microsoft PowerPoint and Windows Movie Maker to create presentations. Students researched their particular mummy, created presentation materials and added finishing touches.

Thom wanted a “wow” factor in the presentations as well as all the criteria he assigned, including creativity, details about how and when the individual died and questions that were still unanswered about the mummy.

The Ice Maiden was a 16-year-old girl that was thought to be a flawless sacrifice; before they took her to the mountains to be sacrificed she was high off of coca leaves and was drunk from alcohol.

“I cannot believe the Ice Maiden had more than 200 braids,” said Monique Deyarmin.

When the Ice Maiden was discovered, she was found in a crouched position and thought to be in prayer as she froze.

“King Tut’s” gold mask consists of a thick sheet of gold inlaid with glass, semi-precious stones and faience, a kind of glazed ceramic, weighing 24 pounds.

“King Tut had so many valuables in his tomb,” Samantha Junod said.

King Tut was a ruler in the 18th dynasty, also known as the New Kingdom era. He was about 5 feet 11 inches tall and was married to his half-sister. Health records show that he may have had scoliosis.

Otzi the Ice Man died 5,300 years ago and was found in the European Alps.

When found he had a shoe and some semi-completed arrows, and he had more than 50 tattoos that scientists do not know the significance of. Otzi is the most researched mummy and is the oldest mummy known to date.

The Yde Girl is a mummy that was found in The Netherlands in 1897. Scientists believe she was strangled and stabbed at age 16.

“The Yde Girl’s hair was cut off before she was sacrificed,” said Shoshone Best.

Scientists made a wax model of her using the technology of CT scanning.

“For the most part students did a good job, answered all research questions, and what I liked the most was many groups tried non-traditional media such as Prezi and Windows Movie Maker instead of just PowerPoint,” Thom said.

Forensic technology available today is helping to solve crime and to get a better understanding of what happened in the past.

PHOTO: Purchase Line High School's Thomas and Caleb Brady earned national honors at the 2013 National 4-H Forestry Invitational. Pictured, from left, are 4-H adviser Debbie Biesel; Thomas Brady; their teammate Jesse Isenberg; Caleb Brady; Ashley Early, forester from Tioga State Forest, Bureau of Forestry, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; and Dave Jackson, regional Forest Resources  Educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension and current Invitational Chairman. Isenberg is a junior at United High School and serves as vice president of operations for the Pennsylvania State 4-H Council.  (Submitted photo)

PHOTO: Purchase Line High School students, from left, Erica Mason, Rebecca Donahey, Monique Deyarmin and Tessa Hengst, learned about the Ice Maiden during a forensic science research project about a mummy of their choice in science teacher Michael Thom’s science and technology class. (Christy Tiger/Purchase Line High School)

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