Canfield Boy Scout leads project to protect wildlife

Luke Bowser strives to attain eagle award by

By Jordyn Grzelewski


Before Luke Bowser, 15, of Canfield, gets his driver’s license, his parents ask that he meet one requirement: earn his Eagle Scout rank.

The five-year Boy Scout veteran, who belongs to Troop 25 based at Canfield United Methodist Church, is well on his way to reaching that milestone after his recent completion of a project at Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary.

Luke planned, constructed and installed five wood-duck nesting boxes at Mill Creek MetroParks’ 264-acre protected area. The boxes provide safe areas for the birds to nest away from predators.

The remote property, which is accessible only to permit-holders, is a former fish farm made up mostly of large ponds. To install the boxes, Luke and his team had to trek down into a drained pond, where they spent six hours on a hot, sunny August morning removing the old, decaying boxes and installing the new ones.

Bolted to sturdy posts, the cedar boxes contain netting and a foot of bedding made from materials that don’t pose a choking hazard to ducklings.

Below the boxes are “predator guards,” which form a shield against creatures such as raccoons and snakes.

Before installing the boxes, Luke spent hours planning and coordinating with the MetroParks; researching the standards set by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ducks Unlimited, a nonprofit conservation organization; and building the boxes, which took four hours with 10 people helping.

By the end of the project, Luke had learned a lot about ducks – “For being just little ducks, they’re pretty complicated,” he says – and much more.

“It’s a lot of work to get a project approved, set up, organized, and have everybody come together and make the finished project,” said Luke, a 10th-grader at Canfield High School.

The hard work seems to have paid off, however, as MetroParks officials could not be more pleased with the results.

“Luke proved that when it was all said and done, that he had exemplary skills to do the project. Even when it came to construction day – he’s supposed to manage the work – he did a very good job with that,” said Steve Avery, MetroParks planning and operations director.

The MetroParks just recently had observed the old nesting boxes were in poor condition and needed to be replaced, so Avery suggested the project to Luke after he reached out to inquire about the park’s needs.

“This gives five new places for them [ducks] to officially nest and raise their young. It does have the opportunity to increase the population,” said Avery.

Luke’s parents, Heather and Aaron, expressed pride in their son’s hard work. They noted that only a small percentage – less than five percent – of Boy Scouts attain the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement in the Scouting program.

It was important to them that Luke see it through, they said.

“He will be a fourth-generation Eagle Scout – my grandfather, my father, my brother and I, and Luke and his brother,” Aaron said. “It’ll be a proud moment.”

“We’re just really proud of him, and this is just another step in growing up and learning to take responsibility and become a good leader,” Heather said. “Boy Scouts really helps young men be more conscious of what it takes to be a good leader.”

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