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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, Sussex County, New Jersey, USA

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Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, Sussex County, New Jersey, USA
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Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: Sparta
Posts: 1
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As a long-time member of the Boy Scouts of America I regularly participate in community service; I’ve helped provide food to the homeless, participated in the maintenance of church grounds, bought Christmas presents for those in need, and many more such activities, but until recently I was always a helper in these projects, never a leader. Until, as an aspiring Eagle Scout I was challenged to plan and carry out my own service project. I wanted to find a project that I felt was important, so I decided to help a local wildlife refuge. I first became involved with the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge when I read a newspaper article reporting that the refuge’s budget had been cut to essentially zero. I called the refuge and asked what I could do to help, and the large project of Blue Bird boxes was immediately a suggestion. The Refuge receives some donations and volunteers through an organization called the Friends of Wallkill River, but the members did not have the time or resources to replace the existing boxes on their own. They were nearly twenty years old and beginning to fall apart, and the organization wanted to add several new boxes as well. I agreed to build 45 birdhouses for eastern bluebirds, a complex and time-consuming procedure.
Using the standard plans for a bluebird house as a guide, I was able to estimate the amount of materials necessary, and upon approval from the Boy Scouts of America, I began securing donations of money and supplies. When the time came to build the houses, I organized a group of friends, Boy Scouts, and others to assist in the assembly. Over a period of several weeks, we constructed 46 houses, complete with mounting poles and guards to deter predators. Each box included a hinged side with a latch in order to facilitate tracking of the birds’ development and cleaning of the interior. Each was mounted on a 7 foot metal fence stake, and had a guard made of PVC pipe in order to deter predators. I also etched the names of sponsors of the Friends of Wallkill River organization into the fronts of the boxes, and numbered them for easier tracking.
Thanks to a huge amount of volunteers, all the houses were installed in their final locations at the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge in just one day. As we watched, some were taken advantage of almost immediately by their intended inhabitants. My project involved over 30 volunteers, contributing a total of 242 hours of work.
Carrying out this project has affected me personally. I feel fulfilled in being able to contribute something to help the environment and my community. The purpose of the Bluebird boxes is to provide nesting and roosting space for the eastern blue bird as part of a conservation effort, as the blue bird is an important and beautiful part of the ecosystem and their natural habitat has been depleted due to land development. When combined with the Bluebird’s particularity when choosing a nesting place, this has resulted in a lack of nesting area for the Bluebird, making it imperative to provide artificial habitat space. The eastern bluebird was classified as critically endangered in the 1990s, but has rebounded due to conservation efforts like this. I’m also inspired by the work of some of the volunteers who I met: Sue and Stan Murrel spend hours and hours every few days checking the birdhouses for new bluebird inhabitants, and charting the development of their chicks. They have shown me how great it is to spend time working for a cause, and how easy it can really be when you have a passion for it. With just the motivation of receiving an Eagle Scout award, I, a 16 year old high school student, was able to complete a large scale service project, and I see similarly great work organized by my peers in Scouting. I now realize that all it takes is a little initiative to make a difference in the world around us.
I plan to continue my dedication to the environment and the well-being of humanity throughout my life. Because I’m committed to conservation and protection of the environment and to the future well-being of mankind, I wish to pursue a degree in science and engineering, and hopefully go on to develop new technologies that will benefit humanity. I’m extremely interested in possibilities for clean, sustainable energy sources, but this is only one possible avenue that I might wish to explore in contribution to mankind.
Date: December 29, 2010 Views: 5407 File size: 19.2kb, 1697.9kb : 2592 x 1944
Hours Volunteered: 242
Volunteers: 34
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16 & 10 to 83
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