Completing an Eagle Scout project requires hours of planning, megabytes of communication and mountains of paperwork. Each Scout must receive approval for and lead volunteers through a project that benefits the community. According to the Boy Scouts of America Council, only five percent of boys who join Scouts will complete their project and earn the rank of Eagle Scout. This fall, Quarry Springs Park became home to three Eagle Scout projects.
Ivan Bechman, Isaiah Jenkins and Malachi Jenkins have been in Scouts for the better part of a decade. Bechman belongs to Troop 46 of Windsor Heights, and Isaiah Jenkins and Malachi Jenkins, brothers, drive from Newton to Altoona every week where they belong to Troop 383.
“I’ve always liked the outdoors, and I’ve actually kind of found my love for the outdoors from scouting,” said Malachi Jenkins.
Progressing through the programs, from camping to leadership conferences with friends, have kept each of the three boys engaged with Scouts over the years. Their Eagle Scout projects are capstone experiences meant to combine skills they’ve learned through the program. Each identified a need at Quarry Springs Park through familiarity with the Colfax community and the park’s previous involvement with Boy Scouts.
The Jenkins brothers, whose parents own Affected Interiors in Colfax, heard about Quarry Springs and started attending the park board’s meetings.
“We thought it would be a really good place to help build and I think it’s a pretty awesome place,” Malachi said. “You usually don’t get somewhere with 200 acres of water around Iowa.”
Through Scouting contacts, Bechman had heard Quarry Springs welcomed Eagle Scout projects, and he contacted the board about his interest in their four existing osprey nest stands, giant boxes perched atop 45-feet poles sturdy enough to support nests averaging between three to six feet in diameter. Bachman chose to add four more stands to the existing ones.
“It’s a cool process about how ospreys always come back to where they were born and how beneficial it is to have them in the ecosystem,” Bechman said. “I thought it would be a cool project to do after seeing a few of the nests already there.”
Although much of Iowa exists as a flyway for osprey migration, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has pinpointed isolated breeding areas in southern and central parts of the state.
“These stands really help keep the ospreys safe because they were originally building on telephone poles, which had live electricity running through them,” Bechman explained. “Nesting there killed the ospreys, and it killed power.”
Bechman coordinated a team of volunteers, from family to fellow Scouts, who helped him assemble octagonal frames with mesh bottoms to erect on the poles. He also contacted Mid-American Energy, which sent a truck to help dig the specified depth for the poles. The entire process, from planning to putting poles in the ground, lasted two-and-a half months, and Quarry Springs now has four new osprey-friendly locations.
The Jenkins brothers chose projects that would benefit the park’s human visitors.
Malachi Jenkins, the older of the two, marked a 3.5-mile trail for visitors to enjoy while running or hiking.
“It might not be huge,” Malachi said of his project, “but I did that so Quarry Springs could put their efforts elsewhere to do something more important. I also think they needed a five-mile trail marked for a grant. This wasn’t quite five miles, but it gives them a start.”
Isaiah Jenkins, a freshman in high school, chose to construct a self-check-in kiosk for campers.
“The park had to staff the office every day because they had to register people,” Isaiah said. “They really wanted to get this up so they didn’t have to have volunteers there all the time, so they could spend their volunteer hours somewhere else instead of sitting in the office.”
Malachi planned and installed signs, from the trailhead at the main parking lot, every half mile along the trail loop. He completed the process in about a month, and fellow Boy Scouts from his troop drove the last sign into the trail Nov. 3.
Isaiah laid out the concrete forms in April, but the City of Colfax’s regulations prevented him from pouring the concrete until May. On a sunny May morning, Boy Scouts from Troop 383 spent six hours completing the kiosk. A backorder on metal roofing material delayed covering the roof form until last month.
Although Bechman and the Jenkins brothers have almost exhausted the Boy Scout ranking system, each hopes to continue their involvement in the program in a mentorship role.
“Boy Scouts has really changed me and I am really thankful for the program,” Isaiah said. “I’m going to help with this program for the rest of my life as a leader or whatever I can.”
Bechman hopes to attend Iowa State University in 2020 and earn a degree in either civil or mechanical engineering. Malachi Jenkins, who is homeschooled, is currently enrolled in online classes with Liberty University. Those courses will enable him to complete his high school diploma and get a running start on an associate’s degree, which he will complete in a year-and-a-half. Isaiah plans to follow in his brother’s track as he advances in his high-school curriculum.
Contact Phoebe Marie Brannock at 641-792-3121 ext. 6547 or firstname.lastname@example.org