My name is Sawyer Ellsworth. I’m a sixteen-year-old Boy Scout from Troop 161. I finished my Eagle Scout project on March 23, 2023 by hanging a total of 8 boxes built for Common Mergansers!
In August of 2022, I contacted Heidi Carlisle from the Intermountain Bird Observatory to see if they had any projects I could do to finish my Eagle Scout. The project that stuck out for me was to build and install 6-8 Common Merganser boxes. This sounded like the perfect project for me to take on.
In September, my project got approved by the Scout office, meaning I could start planning and make this project happen. I had to get my project done before April so they would be ready for nesting Merganser females in the spring.
While working on this project, I learned that Common Mergansers are large duck-like birds found in rivers and lakes that eat mostly fish. Cute, aren’t they? Well, sadly, they are slowly shrinking in numbers in Idaho. I was excited to get my boxes installed before the next nesting season so they could help these cute birds.
With the boxes needing to be installed by April, I had just under six months to get everything done. This started with me building a prototype of what the boxes would look like and making sure it was right for the birds.
Then I had to find the materials I needed. This meant going to multiple different hardware/lumber stores and seeing what they would be willing to donate to me. After some searching, I got materials donated thanks to Lowe’s Hardware store and The Home Depot. I got all of my fundraising done right before Christmas.
After Christmas break, I had to start working on what my build day would look like. February 19, 2023, would be the day I invited all the Scouts, and parents of said Scouts, to my garage to build eight boxes. In all, the process of the build day only took 2 hours because we had a combined force of 12 Scouts and parents working to build these boxes!
As I mentioned, on March 23, I installed the boxes. I did this with the help of Greg Kaltenecker from the Intermountain Bird Observatory and my dad, Mike Ellsworth. We put them up in IBO’s Diane Moore Nature Center a week and one day before our deadline of April 1st. Perfectly timed.
When it’s all said and done, I put in a personal 50 hours of work with more hours on top of that by volunteers. Another special thank you to Heidi Carlisle, Greg Kaltenecker, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Boy Scout Troop 161, and my parents, Mike and Holly Ellsworth.