GAITHERSBURG — When Angela Reeves was outside last year catching bugs with a net and plastic baggie for a school biology assignment, she never imagined she would one day be the grand champion of insects.
“I was speechless,” Reeves, 16, said after winning First Place Grand Champion at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair in the teen collections category. “It was just amazing.”
Reeves attends Cedar Brook Academy, a Clarksburg-based program that supports home-schooled students. Sue Robb of Gaithersburg filled in as a biology teacher for two groups this year, including Reeves’s class of about 11 students. She asked her students to create an insect collection, which the class began as early as the summer before the start of school in 2011.
“When they collect insects, they had to go through the process of putting them in the right order and identifying them, not just giving them a list and saying, ‘These are the different orders of insects. Learn them,’ ” Robb said.
Robb said Reeves’s project was creative with a large variety of bugs from different orders, a rank of biological classification.
“She had very good specimens. They were preserved well,” Robb said.
Reeves decided to submit her collection of 27 insects — including butterflies, dragonflies and moths — for the nature collection for bugs competition Aug. 9 after her mother, Patricia Reeves, mentioned the county fair.
“I thought it would be exciting if I entered it,” Angela Reeves said. “It looked pretty good, so I figured, ‘What the heck?’”
Terry Sorcek of Clarksburg, one of the superintendents of the Arts & Crafts Building, said each class is judged and can be awarded first through sixth place. From there, she said, first place in each of those classes will compete to win the purple rosette, or the champion ribbon, for their collection section. From there, a winner is selected for grand champion for the Educational and Recreational Hobbies division.
Patricia Reeves said it is gratifying to see the encouragement that this project has given her daughter. She said she was jumping up and down, trying to get a good picture, when she found out her daughter’s collection had won.
“Every parent always tries to guide their child as much as they can,” Patricia Reeves said. “She really loved the insects and the different varieties, and she wasn’t intimidated by them or scared. I thought that was unusual and just encouraged it.”
The collection was dedicated to both Robb — who Angela Reeves said “inspired” and “encouraged” her — and her 24-year-old brother, David Reeves of Germantown, who has autism.
“Everything has a different unique skill, and everything is different,” she said. “My brother is as unique as they come.”
While she is unsure how this project will influence her plans for the future, she is hoping to submit the collection in a competition at the Maryland State Fair, which runs from Aug. 24 through Sept. 3 in Timonium.
“I’m grateful for all of these bugs and all of the varieties that there are,” she added.
For more Gazette stories from Montgomery County, go to gazette.net/montgomery.