Scouts build on the future with National Public Lands Day projects

  • Published
  • By Valerie Mullett
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
Hundreds of federal and private-sector orgranizations across the nation participated in National Public Lands Day Sept. 26 and Malmstrom was one of them. National Public Lands Day, or NPLD, began in 1994 with three federal agencies and 700 volunteers. This year, a record was set with more than 150,000 volunteers working coast to coast to improve America's public lands, according to Robb Hampton, director of National Public Lands Day. 

Five Girl Scouts from Malmstrom's Troop 3135, with the help of adult volunteers, gathered at Pow Wow Park to build two bat houses, and pick up trash and debris from around the pond. The project was the idea of Jason Gibbons, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron wildlife biologist, who in May, applied for grant money from the Legacy Resource Management Program to fund four projects he had in mind. 

"Only DoD organizations are eligible to obtain Legacy funding, up to $6,500, for NPLD projects," said Mr. Gibbons. "Two of the four projects I hoped to accomplish were funded." 

Malmstrom received $950 for shoreline restoration at Pow Wow Park pond, which was accomplished with the help of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron Sept. 8, and $196 was given for the bat houses construction and installation. 

This project had a two-fold purpose for the Scouts. Not only were they participating in a NPLD event, they were working on their "Get With the Land" Scouting patch. 

Before starting the construction project, Mr. Gibbons lead the group on a tour around the pond and discussed some of the vegetation in the area and the wildlife that inhabit the area. 

The girls were then broken into two groups, each with an adult volunteer to assist them. Step-by-step they worked together to get the houses constructed, wielding a caulk gun and cordless screw drivers. Once finished, they teamed up again to get them painted. While the first coat of paint dried, they scurried around the pond picking up trash and debris. Then they went back to put a second coat of paint on their houses before they could be permanently installed. 

"I like this, this is really fun," said Kelsey Penny, 10. 

When asked what she thought was so fun, she replied, "We can create the bat houses. We'll be keeping them warm for the winter." 

Fellow Scout, Alexis Crow, also 10, had similar feelings. "I know what we are doing is helping the environment by giving homes to the animals," she said. 

For Girl Scout Samantha Moad, 11, her concern was that the bats would not have to leave Malmstrom to find shelter. "We are helping to save the bats from dying in the winter," she said. "I like that we can make them a warm and comfy house right here so they don't have to go off base to find a place to live." 

Rounding out the Girl Scout construction team were Rylee Broach, 9, and Alyssa Crow, 10, who especially liked the teamwork concept. 

"The most fun part was working together and working with the drill," Rylee said. 

"I liked this project because it allowed us to use our creativity in our own way," Alyssa said. 

Whatever they personally gained from the experience, each of the girls walked away satisfied and proud of the roles they played with the NPLD project to save the bats. 

"These girls were very enthusiastic and excited to do a project like this," Mr. Gibbons said. "It gave them a chance to work with their hands and exposed them for the first time to some power tools. It opened their minds, educated them on some of our native wildlife and gave them more confidence they can do things other than what they are used to. I think that is what Scouting is all about and I look forward to doing more projects with them in the future."