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Program 1304

1. dragonflies and damselflies
2. drum makers Chad and Carrie Schott
3. “Phili-billy” singer Kayla Raganas
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Season 13 Menu

Barren County

For more information:

Dragonfly Society of the Americas, for information about the organization and its publications

Producer, editor: Brandon Wickey
Videographers: Amelia Cutadean, Jason Robinson, Brandon Wickey
Audio: Thomas Cooper


Here There Be Dragons

dragonflies and damselflies

To begin this edition, Kentucky Life heads out to a soggy section of Southcentral Kentucky to observe some true flying aces: dragonflies and damselflies.

More than 150 species of these insects have been reported in the state, with the greatest concentration in the counties of the Green River watershed. Common wherever there’s surface water, they are so much a fact of life in Kentucky that they’re often overlooked. But close inspection reveals a dazzling variety of sizes and colors as well as some impressive abilities.

Dragonflies and damselflies make up the insect order Odonata, or “toothed ones,” so named because they are predators. They are the fastest insects known, with top speeds for some species of more than 30 mph. And they are champions of aerial combat, using that speed as well as agility and ingenious camouflage techniques to capture other insects (including lots of midges and mosquitoes) and even small birds—and, of course, to avoid being eaten themselves by larger birds, fish, or frogs.

But the aerial form, with its double set of gossamer wings and impressive compound eyes, is actually the shortest phase of dragonflies’ life cycle. They spend most of their lives in the nymph or larval stage, living in the water and feeding on small fish, tadpoles, and other invertebrates. The relatively brief adulthood is mostly for breeding and laying eggs on water plants, thus starting the cycle over again.

Helping us sort out dragons from damsels on this trip are Ellis Laudermilk of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and several members of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, which held its annual convention in Cave City in 2006. They include local enthusiast Carl Cook, who has been collecting odonates for more than 50 years. The prize specimens he shows us include the widow skimmer, Eastern red, Yaqui dancer, and brown spiketail.

Watch This Story (8:05)




Calloway County

For more information:
Drumzrguruven, 1404 N. 16th St., Murray, KY 42071, (270) 767-0359

Producer: Cheryl Beckley
Videographer: David Brinkley


Drums R Groovin’

drum makers Chad and Carrie Schott

For our next segment, the main vocabulary words are “rainstick” and “didgideroo.” Chad and Carrie Schott of Murray make variations on these two traditional musical instruments, along with African-inspired drums whose bodies are fashioned from gourds and bamboo, and sell them through their mail-order business Drumzrguruven.

Both the Schotts are talented visual artists in other media. But according to Chad, the instruments allow them to express themselves while also touching something “primal” in the human spirit. Painted in bold and unique designs, the instruments are visually pleasing while connecting both the makers and the buyer to ancient forms of celebration and communication.

The rainstick, originally invented in South America, is a hollow tube with pins or pegs reaching into the interior (the oldest form was a piece of cactus wrapped with the needles inside) and beads, seeds, or pebbles inside. Tilting the rainstick so that the beads fall to the other end, bouncing off the pins as they go, produces a sound like a rainstorm.

The didgideroo originated with the Aborigines of Australia. It may be the world’s oldest wind instrument—a hollow tube played by blowing through it while vibrating the lips to create a buzzing sound.

Watch This Story (6:28)




Taylor County

Producer: Dave Shuffett
Videographers: David Dampier, Dave Shuffett
Audio: Chuck Burgess
Editor: Jay Akers


Rising Star

teenage country singer Kayla Raganas

Move over, hillbilly and rockabilly music. Here comes “Phili-billy.”

That particular term was coined by John and Laura Raganas of Campbellsville, the proud parents of a daughter named Kayla who wants to be the first major country music star of Filipino heritage.

Around Taylor County, Kayla is already a young star. She sings at church, was selected for a statewide all-star Baptist choir, and has been a hit in school musicals. And after this 2006 visit, she had another enthusiastic fan: Kentucky Life host Dave Shuffett.

Watch This Story (8:40)



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