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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Connemara Conservancy, Allen, Texas, USA

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Connemara Conservancy, Allen, Texas, USA
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13burkec



Registered: November 2012
City/Town/Province: Dallas
Posts: 1
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My experience in Boy Scouts has taught me to appreciate the great outdoors and to understand that our environment requires constant stewardship, both nationally and locally. One local area of concern is the Blackland Prairie, a tall-grass prairie ecosystem unique to North Texas. The Blackland Prairie is in dire need of preservation as less than 1% of the original vegetation remains today. The environmental slogan, “Think globally, act locally,” prompted me to do more than merely propose a feasible solution to this local problem; I planned, led, and carried out four significant conservation Projects at the Connemara Conservancy, a land trust dedicated to preserving the nearly-extinct Blackland Prairie.
My first project redirected more water into the protected Blackland Prairie Meadow (“The Meadow”) to enable native grasses to thrive. I obtained four tons of rock to create and build a rock apron and dam around a storm sewer, which slowed erosion and allowed more water into The Meadow. I separated the volunteers into groups to perform certain tasks to move the rocks in position: a wheelbarrow crew, shovel crew, “dam” crew, and rock crew. These efforts enabled a group of forty people to move 10 cubic yards of rock in just over two hours. My second project focused on the removal of the invasive species of Johnsongrass and Bermudagrass from a portion of The Meadow to allow the replanting of native Texas grasses. My third project encouraged native wildlife to inhabit The Meadow and entailed installing kestrel houses, repairing bluebird houses, building a rabbit hutch, and releasing endangered box turtles into The Meadow. My fourth project removed trash and flood debris from Rowlett Creek, which runs through The Meadow. Examples of the garbage removed include dishwasher parts, steel beams, concrete barriers, a car frame and door, tire rims, paper, plastic bags, plastic cans, and bottles. The successful completion of my project not only affected the fish and wildlife in the Creek, but also residents and ecosystems downstream. I also monitored the water of Rowlett Creek and obtained a Mayoral Proclamation which declared September 18 as "Water Monitoring Day" and commended "The Connemara Conservancy, Circle 10 Council, and the Boy Scouts of America for their commitment to promoting good stewardship of our water resources."
My water pollution project proved especially challenging. We had to limit the number of volunteers because of spawning bluegills nests in the Creek. Thus, I could not recruit as many people as previously planned and had to organize the work groups into multiple sessions over several months. Also, given the steepness of its banks (20 yards high, at a 75 degree angle) and the significant danger of flooding, we could only schedule the clean-up during the summer months when the water was at its lowest and warmest. Finally, we had to engineer a cable and pulley system to remove the large metal objects from the Creek, all of which had to be pulled up by a pick-up truck from the middle of the Creek to a bridge, as it was impossible to carry them up the steep embankment.
Through my projects, I learned how to write grants. I won a grant from Disney for $1,000, and have additional grants pending, including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for $40,000. I also learned how to research and tap into national resources. For example, I registered my projects with various monitoring organizations including the Environment Protection Agency, NestWatch, the American Kestrel Partnership, and the Texas Nature Tracker program.
Collectively, my four Projects generated over 1,000 volunteer hours and involved over 100 volunteers. Various newspapers publicized my efforts to increase awareness of the Conservancy, its significance, and need to preserve the Blackland Prairiec through education. I led a tour at the Conservancy, gave an educational talk to about 200 people, and taught younger Cub Scouts how to grow native grasses and protect our Blackland Prairie ecosystem.
For my efforts, I received the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal from the Boy Scouts of America. Considered the Boy Scout "Olympic Gold Medal" of conservation, the Hornaday Silver Medal is the highest national youth award for conservation. Since 1975, the Boy Scouts has awarded only 92 Silver Medals nationwide.
These experiences provided me the opportunity to practice leadership styles and also gave me the chance to serve my fellow Scouts, community, and our local environment. As the oldest Scout in my Troop, I challenged younger Scouts to continue their service after Eagle. Similarly, the Conservancy can boast significant improvements and renewed vigor among its volunteers as my projects inspired others to preserve the Blackland Prairie. Most importantly, I introduced volunteers to a local problem and showed that, despite their young age, their actions can improve our community--and, in this case, they did.
Date: November 8, 2012 Views: 5657 File size: 15.0kb, 2072.5kb : 2736 x 3648
Hours Volunteered: 1000
Volunteers: 100
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 6 to 65
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