Field Notes: Scouting for Trees

August 13, 2020 10:36 am

Field Notes: Scouting for Trees

An Isle of Wight County Boy Scout recently earned his Eagle rank by designing and installing a tree identification trail at Nike Park in Carrollton, Virginia. Sawyer Cook shared the following story about his project.

I am Sawyer Cook from Troop 36 in Carrollton, Virginia. I started the journey of becoming an Eagle Scout 11 years ago. I had always wanted to be an Eagle Scout, ever since I joined Cub Scouts as a kid.

To achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, I needed to design, organize and lead a project. For my Eagle Project, I created a Tree Identification Trail. I chose the location for my project because it is a popular local park that includes several walking/biking trails already. My project will help other scouts with their advancement as well as informing the general public.

The trail includes 11 native Virginia trees, an information kiosk and markers at each selected tree. In the Information kiosk, I included information on each of the featured trees, a map of the trail, including where all of the trees are located, and a simple way to identify trees (sourced from the Smithsonian museum).

Nike Park kiosk

The project has been a hard and lengthy process. To create the map, I got together with another Scout dad that had experience making maps through his work. To start the map, I needed to get the GPS coordinates for each tree. After that we overlaid the points on top of Google Maps satellite image. To finalize the map, we connected all of the dots over the trail and added a legend. Once I had chosen each of the trees I wanted to use for my project, I worked with Scott Bachman, a forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry, to confirm their identification. The last thing to go in the information kiosk was the tree descriptions. I created a one-page description with a picture for each tree.

The final part of my project was the construction phase. The tree markers are made out of a 16-inch section of 4×4 with a 45-degree cut on the top. The number marker is a special type of plastic that can be laser cut and engraved, which I did at my high school.

Nike Park trail marker

The kiosk is constructed out of 2x4s and 4x4s with a plywood and plexiglass box for all of the information I compiled. Aside from sharing knowledge about trees with the public, the trail also provides several rank advancement opportunities to other Cub and Boy Scouts.

Senior Area Forester Scott Bachman confirms that Sawyer did the hardest work himself. “He learned a great deal about local government after getting all the proper sign offs for this project,” said Bachman.