Wednesday, September 9, 2015

On Models and Mentors: Volunteering in the Naval Academy Museum’s Model Shop

By MIDN 2/C Anna Crutchfield

On any given Thursday or Saturday, volunteers come to the basement of Preble Hall to work on restoring and building models for the Naval Academy.

Located beneath the main museum gallery, these men and women work tediously for hours to restore, catalogue, and create the beautiful vessels visitors see on the second deck of Preble Hall.

MIDN 2/C Anna Crutchfield at work in the Naval
Academy Museum Model Shop
(Photo by MIDN 2/C Dylan Prenda)

While they come in every week without fail, few people actually notice their hard work and dedication. I am fortunate to say that I am one of the few and even more honored to say that I am privileged enough to volunteer with them at the USNA Model Shop.

It was by chance that I even began to volunteer at the model shop. The only reason I even knew to seek out a volunteer position there was because my father had mentioned the opportunity to me in an off-hand comment. I had enjoyed making models since I was a child, and he reasoned that the museum's model shop would be a good use of my time as well as a wonderful way to contribute to the preservation of history at the Naval Academy. After several weeks of deliberation, I decided to give the volunteer opportunity a try.

The Naval Academy Museum Model Shop in the basement of Preble Hall
(Photo by MIDN 2/C Dylan Prenda)

Located past the museum's basement gift shop, I was fortunate that the curator of models, Mr. Don Preul, was in his office the day I went to first volunteer. Since that first fortunate day, I've had the pleasure of working not only with Mr. Preul, but a whole host of other men and women who each have uniquely intriguing histories and great wealth of knowledge.

I might have first come to the model shop to volunteer because I enjoyed making models, but I have since stayed because of the great friendships and mentorship I have received from the other volunteers.

Mr. Don Pruel, curator of ship models for the Naval Academy Museum
(Photo by MIDN 2/C Dylan Prenda)

Being a midshipman is busy. From early in the day until late in the night, there is always something to begin, to continue, or to complete. Life gets hectic and there are few moments when one can peacefully apply oneself to a task. The model shop has been my place of solace from a busy schedule. Every time I volunteer, I learn new things or gain new insight into topics ranging from the military to daily life.

I primarily work under the instruction of Mr. Jack Hudock and Mr. Howard Chatterton who have both become some of my most highly valued mentors at the Naval Academy. I have learned leadership lessons and made lasting relationships by volunteering for the museum's model shop. They have become not only my friends and mentors, but an extension of my family. They are family.

See more photos at the Naval Academy Flickr site.


  1. We enjoy having Anna come into the shop and work on models. I am looking forward to seeing her again when she returns from China.

    Russell Slye

    1. I miss everyone back at the shop! I'm excited to return with lots of good stories :)

      Anna C.


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