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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

KANUTI: Boy Scout Troop makes nest boxes for village school

Region 7, April 25, 2012

During an annual spring outreach event Kanuti Refuge staff held at the Allakaket School in March, students were given a meaningful and unexpected gift: two bird nest boxes made by the Fairbanks Boy Scouts in Troop One. When refuge staff shared that the nest boxes were a gift from the Scouts, community members and students were surprised and thankful for the kind gesture that came from people they had never even met.

 

The bird nest boxes, one for small owls and another for smaller songbirds, were a big hit with the students at the Allakaket School. One of them was strategically mounted within direct view of the second grade classroom windows so students can observe and report any activity they see to refuge staff. Teachers at the school plan to have their students write about and illustrate what they observe from both indoor and outdoor perspectives. Projects like this are a win-win situation for everyone. Not only did the Scouts and students of the Allakaket School get to learn about nest boxes and the birds that inhabit them, but they were inspired to spend more time outdoors observing the environment around them. The experience also facilitated cross-cultural exchange, bringing rural and urban students into partnership.

Though Kanuti Refuge provided the materials for the nest boxes, it was Vince Mathews, Refuge Subsistence Specialist for Arctic, Kanuti, and Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuges, who came up with the idea to ask the Troop if they would like to participate in the project. Vince is also the Scoutmaster of Troop One and has been an adult leader of Boy Scouts of America for 19 years, holding positions ranging from Cub Scout Den Leader, to Advancement Coordinator, to Assistant Scoutmaster.

As a U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee, Vince was looking forward to the outreach event, and knew the refuge hoped to provide bird nest boxes to the Allakaket School to inspire the community to participate in a schoolyard habitat project that would inspire students to spend more time outdoors, connecting with nature. Vince said that the project was perfect for Boy Scouts because scouting provides a program for youth that builds character, trains boys in the responsibilities of participating in citizenship, and helps develops outdoor skills. Community service is one of the core elements of scouting, so building the bird nest boxes was a great way for the Scouts to get involved with neighbors in a nearby rural community.

Kanuti Refuge staff are actively fostering other youth partnerships and plans are underway to provide an opportunity for Fairbanks youth to attend this summer’s Henshaw Creek Weir Science Camp, which has previously served only students from Native villages that are near the refuge. By connecting youth to nature and to one another, we hope to help foster a brighter future for generations to come! For more information about our outreach events or the annual science camp, please contact Kristin Reakoff at kristin_reakoff@fws.gov.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov