Boy Scout Troop 68 gathered way out in the woods of Winding Trails Sunday afternoon to celebrate the ribbon cutting for an Eagle Scout project and gift to the recreation center, led by Life Scout Cordell Szot.
Cordell, 15 and a student at Farmington High School, completed the bird blind at Phantom Pond at Winding Trails as his Eagle Project. The bird blind is in a remote area, where wood ducks breed and all kinds of wildlife live.
The structure is a three-sided building, with a clear roof and holes cut at various heights to allow visitors to watch the wildlife at the pond. The holes are large enough for a camera or pair of binoculars but shield visitors so they don’t spook the birds.
“On the first day, we cleared the trees out, laid cinder blocks to frame the floor and put down floor boards. On the second day, we built the three walls on the ground. On the third day, we stood the walls up, attached them and put the roof on. On the fourth day, we spread mulch and put the finishing touches on,” Cordell explained.
The bird blind went together quickly, with the help of several of Cordell’s fellow scouts and almost a year of planning. He thanked Scout Master Ted Sanford, Eagle Advisor DeBaeck, Judy Witzke, the naturist at Winding Trails, as well as his grandfather Emil Szot, who helped create the design. Flaggstead Smokehouse contributed funding for the project and Sanford & Hawley and E.R. Hinman & Sons contributed materials.
The spot is particularly significant because it is home to two boxes where the once-endangered wood duck breeds each year. Witzke said 8 to 10 of the ducks are born in each box each year and the bird blind is a great place to view them.
“It’s a nice bright airy bird blind and it’s a great place to sit and observe,” Witzke said. “Winding Trails is very pleased with the outcome of the project.”
Winding Trails will use the space for school education programs, to teach members about bird watching and in camp programs, she said. A poster identifying the various birds will be installed soon.
One of the requirements of progressing to Eagle Scout is showing leadership skills, which Scout Master Ted Sanford said Cordell did. He also attributed the poise with which Cordell addressed the crowd to his years in Boy Scouts.
“He’s been dedicated to Scouts for a long time,” Sanford said. “He’s put in a lot of work and effort to get where he is.”