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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Jerry P. Combs Lake, Kennett, Missouri, USA

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Jerry P. Combs Lake, Kennett, Missouri, USA
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Registered: June 2018
City/Town/Province: St. Louis
Posts: 1
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In the Boy Scouts of America, the highest rank you can earn is called the Eagle Scout. It's a lifelong goal for many young men and even their fathers. I've seen it shape my little brother into the young man he is today. So, naturally, I wanted to find out what I could achieve through the Boy Scouts of America.

I joined Venturing, a co-ed branch of the BSA focused on high adventure and leadership, about 4 years ago. Back then, I was terrified to speak in front of anyone, and people my age were, well, my least favorite people. I went to Venturing reluctantly, practically pushed out the door by my parents. But, within 24 hours, I had grown to love the program (and the people) and was elected an officer for a 1 year term.

Ever since that day, I have put my all into Venturing. I've spoken to hundreds of people -- both in person and through news interviews. I have also started earning the four awards and honors Venturing is built on. Most recently, I'm finishing up the Summit Award. It's comparable to the Eagle Scout and the closest thing I can get to it as a young woman.

I knew that because I had experienced so much in the program - going from an office supporting 80 people to one supporting 500 and eventually one supporting thousands of Scouts, I had learned a lot more than I ever expected. I wanted my Summit project to reflect the type of challenge I was capable of accomplishing.

I learned about a lake in Southern Missouri called the Jerry P. Combs Lake. It lies in the second poorest county in the whole state of Missouri, and its 200 acres can often be so full of boats in the Summer that you can jump from one boat to the next. It was seeing low numbers of bass fish because they didn't have shade and nooks for them to repopulate in. Many of the Kennett citizens were complaining to the Missouri Department of Conservation and asking for a solution to such a low bass population. I found one I believed in.

There has been a new invention in the fishing community to increase fish populations in struggling lakes. You take a concrete block, fill one side with concrete, and place 8-10 6' polyethylene tubes into the concrete. It dries, forming what is called a spider block fish habitat. They became attractive to me because they last for over 60 years as opposed to pine trees, the most popular route, which only last for about 3 years. Fish use the shade and various nooks to repopulate in and lay eggs. I asked the Department of Conservation Agent how many the lake could fit. He told me "about 200". So, right away, I began working with my advisor on organizing the project. This is about a $10,000 project. $4000 is the estimated cost for materials, and the manpower and space rental more than double it.

I was able to overcome the challenge of getting the most expensive material, the tubing, for free. I worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation and secured a large amount of the tubing that had been recycled from another project. They were kind enough to drive the tubing up as long as I worked on logistics. The local Boy Scout camp agreed to let me store materials there.

I was able to reach out to my fellow scouts and leaders to get about 30 people to help me. That's one thing I love about Scouts -- you can always find help.

Then I needed to work out the concrete blocks and concrete mix. My advisor suggested I call some different companies and see if I could get a deal cut. One of the contacts he had stuck; I was offered all 200 blocks for free. And if I purchased the concrete mix at a lower cost, the company would even deliver it to the worksite at the local camp for free. I was beyond grateful -- now all I had to do was raise money for concrete and all work day costs.

My community rallied around me and donated through a funding site. I worked out a budget and bought all food and drinks needed. I was all ready to go; my last step before build day was to get all pipe cut. I spent a Saturday with some friends cutting the pipe to the correct length. It was a taxing, several hour job. We took all pipe to the worksite and set up as much as we could for the next day.

The day of the project was finally here! We set up food, I split my 30-something volunteers into teams, and we got to work. One of my biggest challenges that day was keeping everyone in the know and focused. It was raining, which added a psychological hurdle. Nobody likes working in wet clothes and socks!

Thankfully, the warm food was able to keep everyone happy and in good spirits. The team and I completed all 200 spider blocks within 4 hours (a true miracle). I still am amazed with the fact that I accomplished such a large project in only about 3 months, and was able to stay positive and focused the whole time. I think it's great to set such high goals for yourself because they challenge you to become better, which I am always striving for.

I was also able to help install the habitats in the lake. It's about a 4 hour drive from my house, which seems far but is worth it. I knew just by meeting some community members and the park ranger that this was a big help to the community. I can't wait to take my grandkids to the lake in 50 years and show them what I helped accomplish.
Date: June 14, 2018 Views: 2723 File size: 13.1kb, 106.6kb : 640 x 274
Hours Volunteered: 450
Volunteers: 60
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 10-60
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 200
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