Good for people, bad for mosquitoes
Would-be Eagle Scout's project helps bats in Big Foot Beach State Park
December 08, 2010 | 09:02 AM
Geneva — There are three reasons why 14-year-old Logan Tenney decided to build bat houses in Big Foot Beach State Park.
Tenney, a Badger High School freshman and former Woods School student, said the very existence of bats are threatened by a deadly disease called white-nose syndrome.
He said building four bat houses — each of which have a 250-bat capacity — will help to ensure the bat population.
And bats eat what people semi-jokingly refer to as the real Wisconsin state bird — mosquitoes.
"I know Big Foot has had mosquito problems (and) I found out bats were threatened by this disease, so I thought I'd help them out a little bit," Tenney said.
But the bat house project also meets the requirement for Tenney to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout, which is the highest Boy Scout rank one can reach.
Tenney, of Boy Scout Troop 239, is attempting to achieve this rank alongside two of his friends — Jackson Seeberg and Jordon Drohner.
The trio of would-be Eagle Scouts chose, organized and executed projects at two area parks.
Seeberg beautified McKay Park, Pell Lake.
Drohner constructed a volleyball court at Big Foot Beach State Park.
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Tenney said he came up with the bat house idea after seeing bat houses in other parks.
"That's helped," he said. "It attracts bats to live in these houses. This way, they hang around the park."
The more bats there are, the less mosquitoes.
Tenney said mosquitoes around Geneva Lake are a "nuisance."
"I've been around the lake a lot and it's terrible," he said.
The first stage of Tenney's Eagle Scout project was to obtain plans for bat houses from the website of the state Department of Natural Resources.
Then, it took four days to build the houses, paint them, attach them to 16-foot-high posts and set them in concrete in the park.
"It involved woodworking," Tenney said. "That's new to me."
Constructing the bat houses proved to be one of the most challenging aspects of the project for him.
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"It all had to be so precise, the measurements and the baffles,"
Tenney said. "There was a plank, a baffle and another plank on top."
With help from his dad, Tom, Logan was able to build the 24-by-28-inch bat houses.
Aside from learning some woodworking skills, Logan said he also discovered what it takes to lead the 10 volunteers who helped him with his project. He also worked with Anne Korman, Big Foot park manager.
"I learned how to lead people," he said. "I used the EDGE method — explain, demonstrate, guide, enable. … Every time we went to work on the project, it got better and better. I think I did well."
Logan said he hopes his project earns him the Eagle rank.
"I think it will give me a benefit and an advantage, through all the hours I put into this, in college," he said. "It would put me a step ahead of everyone else."
Ultimately, whether Logan becomes an Eagle Scout is up to the Glacier's Edge Council for Boy Scouts, according to his mom, Anne.
"Logan started as a Tiger when he was 5," she said.
With the council's decision pending, there's at least a couple ways in which Logan's project already can be judged a success.
"Someone already commented they were happy to see it," he said.
But perhaps overall, he created something he can be proud of.
"A ton of people who come into the park every year are going to enjoy it," Logan said.