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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Chief Little Turtle, Angola, Indiana, USA

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Chief Little Turtle, Angola, Indiana, USA
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Djackson46750



Registered: October 2018
City/Town/Province: Huntington
Posts: 1
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Apprentice Ecologist Scholarship Essay
My name is Darren and I really like nature. I have taken many classes relating to natural sciences that my high school offers. For example, I have taken geology, meteorology, horticulture, and many more because I really like learning how they all connect and figuring how ways humans can reduce their impact on nature. I have even participated in multiple extracurricular activities that relate to nature like the Indiana Master Naturalist Course, Boy Scouts, and 4-H. I also happen to work at a Boy Scout camp called Camp Chief Little Turtle that is in Pleasant Lake, Indiana and I have worked there for three years in the ecology area. In the ecology area, staff members and I teach merit badges which scouts can sign up to earn by completing certain tasks. The merit badges that we have offered are the Environmental Science, Bird Study, Forestry, Geology, and many others.
In the year 2019, I will be attending National Camp School so I can be the leader of the ecology area. My goal as leader is to offer the most engaging ways of teaching merit badges and to teach future generations of scouts how they can spread their knowledge to other scouts. I want them to realize how much of an impact they make and ways they can reduce their impact. Another goal as leader I have is to keep the man-made "pond" that was constructed at the ecology center active.
This pond is divided into three sections with each section larger than the last one and the sides of the pond are very steep. The third section has a pump that moves water from the third section to the first via a PVC pipe. The first section is only a couple inches deep, the second is about the dimensions of the kiddie pools that you can purchase at the store, and the third is only about three to four feet deep and it was a couple of yards wide. The pond was constructed in 2001 when the contractors who built the foundation of the ecology building had extra concrete and decided to dig holes and line those holes with the extra concrete.
The pond was maintained for several years by the leader of the ecology building, but the camp went through several different leaders and the pond was ignored. Overtime, the pond collected leaves, rocks, large amounts of dirt, cattails, and the pond water became a thick, muddy sludge. Amphibians and reptiles that occasionally visited the pond could no longer inhabit this pond because it had been so polluted with sediments. The pond had somehow picked up a large stump, plastic utensils, and, I kid you not, two garden gnomes. This summer, I realized that there is a very big potential behind this teaching tool and that it should be cleaned out. While getting approval from the Camp Ranger, my scoutmaster seemed to think that he thought it was a waste of time.
Cleaning this pond wasn't a very easy task and it wasn't necessarily the cleanest job to do either, so that is probably why my predecessors didn't clean it out. Rumor had it that the Eastern Redcedar that the pond was built by had penetrated the foundation and somehow the water was escaping from the pond. I decided in my spare time, that I would pick rocks out, pull cattails, bail the muddy sludge out of the pond, and do anything else I could without better tools and more help. One of the weeks, my boy scout troop came up to Camp Chief Little Turtle and they had to do a service project for a certain patch they could earn. We got hand weed whips, a wheelbarrow, and a few other tools to begin working on the second part of the pond. We took a good chunk of decaying matter and a couple bucket loads of rocks and got them out of the pond, but the younger scouts ran out energy before we could get any farther.
After the camping season was over, I talked with my dad and a few other adults to recruit some help with the third portion of the pond. My dad managed to find someone who could operate a front loader to make the job a bit easier to accomplish along with two other adults and their kids who were willing to volunteer. In total, we had three adults and five scouts to help clean the ponds out. The workers were Steve (my dad), Doug and Joe (friends we know through robotics club, Kalel (a scout in my troop), Chase (my co-worker), Kenny (CCLT Camp Commissioner), Kenny's Grandson, and I. We brought plenty of shovels, rakes, buckets, and any other tool that we could because the tools that the camp supplied us with during the camp season weren't necessarily in the best condition. We also made sure we brought a first aid kit, gloves, and muck boots to make sure everyone was safe during the project. We really pushed the consumption of water because it got hot around noon and no one will want to work if they are overheated. The ecology building that I teach in doubles as a lodge in the off-season, so we were able to rent the lodge so we didn't have to sleep in tents.
We arrived at camp on September 14th around six o' clock, so we weren't able to start working because night was quickly approaching and the tractor wasn't going to be available for use until the next morning. The following morning, we all got up around six and ate breakfast and by the time we cleaned up our mess, the tractor arrived. We talked to the operator, who is a commissioner at CCLT, and I told him my general plan and what he could do with the tractor.
First, we started by pulling out any rocks and clumps of dirt that were easy to carry out by hand or put into buckets. We took all of the stones that we found in the ponds and put them into a pile that I plan to reorganize later. There really wasn't an exact strategy of how to clean the pond, so everyone in the pond pulled whatever they could out. We brought a toe strap and secured it to the front bucket and used the strap to pull the larger stones out. Once the larger stones were pulled out, shoveling the mud out of the pond was much easier. We all occasionally took ten-minute water breaks to make sure one person wasn't overworking themselves. We also brought a small pump to siphon the water out because it smelled like sewage. The intake of the pump had to constantly be cleaned off due to the fact that it really wasn't sucking up water, it was sucking up a slurry of duckweed, mud, water, and plant matter. We took a break for lunch and continued to let the pump run and after lunch we brought in the tractor to remove the large piles of dirt still remaining. We used shovels and our hands to move the unwanted matter into the bucket of the tractor and the tractor dumped it in places where it wouldn't harm anything or anyone. We made a several compost piles away from the pond that could also be exploited during the summer.
After we got every pile of dirt out of the pond, we got a power washer from the camp and we power washed the foundation. The reason we power washed the concrete basin is so we could inspect it for any cracks that were originally thought to have formed. I actually found it quite humorous when we found no cracks what so ever. The pump that is placed in the pond to pump the water back up to the first section wasn't working because it wasn't pumping water at all! It was pumping the sludge and the sludge plugged up the pump and that's why the pond didn't fill all the way! We originally thought we were going to have to chop the tree down and waste a bunch of money on pesticide and kill the tree, but I can assure you that no trees were harmed in the cleaning of this pond.
I am super excited that we now have a new tool to use in the ecology area and I have lots of ideas for the many different merit badges we teach. We could stock the pond with minnows and larger fish to observe them like an aquarium or to attract certain organisms. I found a book on aquatic plant life and I would like to experiment with that so the pond will have a nicer, more natural feel to it. The pond before we cleaned it also had a huge problem with mosquitos, so stocking it with organisms could control that. The scouts really enjoy observing wildlife and I know some of them don't get that chance very often, so I want them to get the most out of my area on the camp. Without this summer, I wouldn't have a clue what career to pick, but I found my calling in forestry and the biggest goal I want to accomplish next summer is to inspire a scout just like I was inspired.
Date: October 29, 2018 Views: 65 File size: 23.4kb, 203.8kb : 640 x 480
Hours Volunteered: 80
Volunteers: 8
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 and 15-65
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 4
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