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Eagle project designed to address pollinator crisis

Eagle project designed to address pollinator crisis
Eagle project designed to address pollinator crisis
Jack Sandford designed this sign to help explain his Eagle Scout project to those who visit Sam Peden Community Park in New Albany. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

Boys often aspire to follow in their father’s footsteps.

For Jack Sandford, a sophomore at Floyd Central High School, there was something his father, Chris, had done during his teen years that he wanted to do also: achieve Eagle Scout.

Only about 4% of all Scouts ever achieve the rank of Eagle. Jack not only accomplished something his father did, he joins an elite group that includes motion picture director Steven Spielberg, former CIA director Robert M. Gates, retired astronaut James A. Lovell Jr. and the late Indiana Gov. Frank L. O’Bannon.

Jack said his parents, Chris and Deann Sandford, had him join Cub Scouts when he was younger.

“I had a great time in Cub Scouts, and I just continued to advance as I got older,” he said.

He is a member of Boy Scout Troop 4020 at Georgetown but has belonged to three other troops in his journey. The first was when the Sandfords lived in Minnesota. When they moved to St. Louis, Jack was in a troop for six months with his cousins, who are also Eagle Scouts.

“Then when we moved here, I joined Troop 4025,” Jack said. “Then, I switched to 4020 where I am now. I left Troop 4025 so my family could help start girls’ Troop 4020 at Georgetown Christian Church. We now have both a boys’ and girls’ troop.”

One of Jack’s favorite aspects of being a Boy Scout is camping, especially at the High Adventure camps.

“One of my favorite memories is attending the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in 2019,” he said.

Scouts have until their 18th birthday to achieve Eagle. In order to complete the rank, the scout has to do a service project after completing other prerequisites, including earning the six ranks that come before Eagle.

“The Eagle Scout Service Project is typically one of the last steps that you have to complete before you achieve the rank of Eagle Scout,” Jack said. “I also had to earn at least 21 merit badges, 13 of which are Eagle required badges.

“I currently have earned 39 merit badges,” he said.

For his service project, Jack decided to create a pollinator habitat at Sam Peden Community Park in New Albany that would not only give pollinators like bees and butterflies a place to thrive, but to help beautify the park. Pollinators are important for food production.

The project took nearly two years to complete.

“I thought it was a good way to help the national pollinator crisis and help to beautify the park,” Jack said of his project choice. “We have a family friend who is a beekeeper, and he told me about (the pollinator crisis).”

Jack initially knew little about pollination conservation, he said, but met with professionals to learn what he could.

Early on, he met Don Lopp, director of operations and county planning for Floyd County, who helped Jack secure two acres of land as well as the support of the Floyd County Board of Commissioners for the project. Other agencies that came on board for the project included the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish Wildlife Service, the Floyd County Soil & Water Conservation District and Purdue University Extension – Floyd County.

A “generous” grant from Caesars Foundation of Southern Indiana helped with expenses, Jack said.

“Grant Line Nursery also helped cost share or provide services,” he said.

Sunnyside Master Gardeners also were involved.

The project involved setting 2,400 wildflower plants, sowing native grass seed, erecting a sign that details the project as well as helps educate the public about the importance of pollinators and constructing and setting two benches at the park.

“There were a lot of things to do,” Jack said. “I had to kill the existing grass to make room for the planting. Once that was done, I had to check the current condition of the soil and raise the soil’s pH level by amending it with three tons of lime.

“I then had to do a second killing of the remaining grass,” he said. “Once the grass was mostly killed, I had to loosen the soil with a chain harrow and tractor to prepare it for taking wildflower seeds. I then scattered many different types of wildflower seeds.”

Jack’s original plan was to plant the 2,400 wildflower plugs soon after that; however, due to COVID-19, that was delayed until he could get enough volunteers to help.

“That finally happened in mid-September,” Jack said.

He planned to plant a couple of shade trees near the benches.

Family friends provided the larger equipment Jack needed for the project, such as the tractor and chain harrow and generators to use when the wildflower plugs were planted.

Volunteers who helped with the plantings included members of Boy Scout Troop 4020.

Jack hopes his project will serve three purposes.

“First of all, I hope that it increases our local pollinator population,” he said. “Secondly, I hope it helps to educate the public about the importance of pollinators. Thirdly, I hope it provides a place for people to enjoy.”

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