New Eagle Scout Benefits World Bird Sanctuary
A Wildwood student at Eureka High School reached the prestigious Boy Scout milestone. The results of his project will assist a local study on songbird nesting practices and declining songbird population in Missouri due to habitat destruction.
Alex VanDover, a 17-year-old Wildwood resident, just received his Eagle Award on March 10 at Beaumont Scout Reservation in High Ridge. He is a member of Troop 456 in Wildwood, and is a junior at Eureka High School. The Eagle Award is the highest advancement rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program.
Eagle Scout requirements include earning at least 21 merit badges and demonstrating Scout Spirit through the Boy Scout Oath and Law, service and leadership. The program includes an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads and manages.
VanDover's project was to build 50 bluebird houses and predator guards for the World Bird Sanctuary. His mother Nancy said construction took about five months between March and August 2012.
Nancy said Alex worked very closely with his maternal grandfather, Vernon Meyer, to create the jigs, cut the pieces and assemble the prototype.
"Once everything was ready, Alex organized an assembly day on Aug. 18, where we had about 25 family and friends working at four stations to assemble the bird houses," she said. "We also had a few people working at the staining station."
World Bird Sanctuary and Ameren UE representatives are working together to study songbird nesting practices. Sanctuary staffers said the songbird population in Missouri is declining because of habitat destruction. The bluebird boxes built for Alex’s Eagle project will be placed on transmission towers.
Sanctuary staff will study how many eggs are laid in the boxes, how many are hatched and how many birds return to the boxes. Chicks will be banded to track their movements. Sanctuary staff members said they hoped the study will show transmission rights-of-way can provide suitable habitat for songbird nesting.
During the Eagle Court of Honor, Alex presented mentor pins to Ken McGohan, Troop 456 den chief adviser, and Vernon Meyer, Alex’s maternal grandfather.
Since its introduction in 1911, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than 2 million young men. The title of Eagle Scout is held for life, thus giving rise to the phrase "Once an Eagle, always an Eagle".