“This is not the usual way we would do an Eagle Scout Project,” says Walter Pasek, a member of Elmhurst’s Troop 117, as he describes the unique steps needed to earn his rank of Eagle Scout during the summer of a global pandemic.
Pasek was one of three Boy Scouts who coordinated with the Elmhurst Park District to complete projects to earn their Eagle Scout ranking. Connor Lawrence improved the Berens Park picnic area by cleaning the area up, repairing the picnic tables and donating a new table to the area.
Evan Frank planned and supervised the planting of two beneficial insect gardens next to the Marjorie Davis garden plots. The hope is that predatory insects will be attracted to the flowerbeds and then visit the garden plots and eradicate insects which do damage to the plants.
Pasek created six permanent fishing line recycling stations for Eldridge Park Lagoon, as well as six for DuPage Forest Preserve. The fishing line will be sent to a fishing line manufacturer which melts the material and recycles it.
Years of fishing at Eldridge Lagoon inspired Pasek to complete his project there. He goes fishing often and has enjoyed fishing at the Lagoon since he was around 5 years old. He’s participated in events there as well, most recently winning the Cops and Bobbers Fishing Derby with a 14” bass at last year’s Eldridge Adventure Day.
With the help of his fellow Troop 117 Scouts, Pasek created the recycling stations.
“Because of COVID-19, I had to drop off the parts in a kit to each Scout volunteer’s house and then we put them together during a Google meet online,” he says.
Each of the projects emphasizes a connection to celebrating nature and preserving it.
“As a Scout, we practice to ‘Leave No Trace’ on the environment,” says Pasek. “Whenever I go to the pond, I clean up discarded fishing line.”
Fishing line can get wrapped around fish, birds and other animals and can also cause harm if ingested by animals.
“I have untangled a goose and a few turtles that have been caught up in discarded fishing line. It is sad to see animals suffering that have got caught up in the line. The fishing line recycling stations that I designed have a cap, so that birds cannot fly into the tubes.”
Projects like those completed this summer serve as reminder to all who visit Park District parks that individuals play a role in maintaining our outdoor spaces.
“I hope that when people, especially youth, see the fishing line recycling stations, they will recycle their line instead of discarding it in the water or trash, and they will think more about what they can do as individuals to help preserve and protect our environment,” Pasek says.