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Godspeed and Good-Bye to a 4-H Tech Club Friend | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Godspeed and Good-Bye to a 4-H Tech Club Friend

Brain Surgery & Digital Imaging Workshop at Tech Club

We are blessed when there are quiet heroes among us, who share their talents and raise the bar. This week, I had to say good-bye to a friend and his family with our 4-H Tech Club, Mark Keller. Mark is one of our club’s leaders, who will be moving with his engineering job later this summer.

Mark belongs to that category of quiet superhero – one of the good guys who comes up with outstanding ideas and then carries them from start to finish. He never sought the limelight but always undertook each task with thorough attention to detail, a wry sense of humor, and an abiding sense that as a youth leadership program, we balanced skill and character development. Mark’s years of work as a youth leader at his church gave him perspective and experience as a 4-H leader.

When our club had a planning meeting last fall, Mark suggested we try a hands-on approach to rockets. We had had workshops in past years on the physics behind rockets, rocket building 101, and advanced rocket skills. He wanted us to try having the club buy and each member of the club build a rocket during a meeting to launch at a later meeting.

As a leader, I’ve sometimes encountered creative people who come up with ideas, start them, but don’t finish them. Not so with Mark. We scheduled his rocket workshops, and Mark planned them with impeccable detail, researching and purchasing rockets that would meet our needs to be built in a 1-hour workshop. Then Mark led 22 kids, from ages 3rd to 12th grades, through the building of rockets. At a later meeting, when we launched, Mark again assumed quiet leadership and handled all the details.

Mark did an equally outstanding job at leading physics workshops for the club…whether it was a workshop on Mobius Strips where he incorporated the steps of the scientific method and illustrated industrial applications for them or a magnetic physics experiment where he had members work through each of the steps, log their results, ask questions, and then reach conclusions. Not only did he present excellent information, but he did so in an engaging manner that held everyone’s interest. He also found a neurosurgeon (who happened to be a former rocket scientist) who gave our club a workshop on how digital imaging is used in brain surgery to save lives.

Mark’s leadership skills show equally in his family. His son, a budding programming guru, has designed websites for non-profits, created Visual Basic databases, and created his own blogging application which rivals WordPress in usability – and has served this year as our club’s secretary. His daughter, a club recreation leader, has arrived at each meeting prepared with recreation, willing to share her ideas. She’s always been a great sport who keeps focus, even when the occasional middle school boy tries to get her attention by pestering her, never complaining and staying on the task at hand.

The youth and other leaders in our Tech Club will continue to seek to find new ways we can use technology better. Even so, technology doesn’t replace great people. We hope to carry on from the lessons Mark has taught us and live up to the example he set.

Thanks to the whole Keller family, and Godspeed in your journey. You will be missed and will always have a special place in our Tecchie hearts.



Wow. It's Quiet Here...

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