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4-H Drone Club takes flight

The Drone Club, from left: Club Leader Rusty Branstetter, Hunter Yates, Jasper Atkins, Matthew Estes, Oliver Minton, and Ember Lawhon. Photo submitted.

Mary Beth Sallee

Managing Editor

Hart Co. News-Herald


Hart County 4-H is providing yet another great opportunity for local youth.

The Drone Club allows children in grades 6th-12th to learn about drones and how to fly them through various obstacle courses that will progressively get harder as they build their skills. In addition to hand controls, they are also learning how to program the drones to fly by using a program called Drone Blocks and about different industries that utilize drones. Future meetings will feature guest speakers who use drones in their own jobs.

The club was made possible by Thoroughbred Solar who made a donation of $5,000 to help purchase drones, laptops, and the obstacle course.

Rusty Branstetter is the leader of the Drone Club. An Army veteran, Branstetter flew drones during his military service and knows how valuable this skill can be for children and their future ambitions.

“My plan to is to work with the kids as they get older and help them obtain their Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA,” Branstetter said. “Career opportunities for drone pilots will continue to grow in the future.”

Hart County 4-H Extension Agent Julia Wilson said the kids are thrilled with this new club.

“They are developing vital life skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork – all while having a blast,” Wilson shared. “I’m profoundly grateful for the generous donation from Thoroughbred Solar that has made this club possible. When people think of 4-H, they often associate it with agriculture. 4-H offers so much more! I’m delighted to provide an opportunity for youngsters eager to explore the realm of Science, Engineering, & Technology (SET).”

Children in the club have expressed their excitement as well.

“I love Drone Club,” said Ember Lawhon.

“This would be something I could use in a career,” added Jasper Atkins. “There are drones that spray crops, and I’m very interested in farming.”

For additional information about the Drone Club, contact Julia Wilson at 270-524-2451 or via email at

Matthew Estes launched his drone to fly through an obstacle course. Photo submitted.

Jasper Atkins watched as his drone took off after programming it with Drone Blocks. Photo submitted.

Ember Lawhon flew her drone through the course while staying in the pilot’s box marked on the floor. Photo submitted.


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