Freshman Caroline Newby recently earned the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout after building a bird viewing blind in the Trinity Woods Preserve. With the help and support of her family, other BSA Troop 72 members and her middle school science teacher, Mr. Earley, Caroline built a structure where kindergarten-8th grade students at Trinity Episcopal School can unobtrusively observe and identify birds in their natural habitat. Species identification cards and information/tips on reducing light pollution are available at the viewing site.
Caroline was inspired to make this her Eagle Scout project after going to a Scout summer camp in Oregon and experiencing the night sky full of stars, galaxies, and constellations and realizing that wasn't what she saw from her home in Austin. She soon learned about light pollution and its impact, particularly on wildlife. She dove into the research, reaching out to many resources in the Austin area who helped her learn more about the effects of light pollution and solutions to the problem.
From there she decided that eduction was key to solving this issue. "If I could help my classmates understand the effect of skyglow in our school’s own backyard, maybe they would carry that idea back to their home, their neighborhood, to their parent’s workplaces, parks, libraries, and businesses around town."
Instead of just telling her classmates, friends and family about this issue, she also wanted to show
them. She felt that if they could see just how many animals there are, and could learn about the impacts light pollution has on them, they'd want to help make a change too. And so the idea of the bird blind was born.
After many hours of planning, and supplies donated by Home Depot and Lowes and everything else funded by Caroline's babysitting money; she, her family and her friends got to work on the blind. And after weeks of measuring, cutting, digging and incredibly hard work, there is now a beautiful bird blind for her former classmates and teachers to enjoy.
On top of the all the hard work it took to build the blind, Caroline also spent many hours researching and educating other students about light pollution, its impacts and ways they can help during school assemblies. She encouraged them to be mindful of turning off lights when they aren't needed, closing blinds when watching tv, and just being generally aware of all the different places light comes from.
Finally, this is what Caroline had to say when reflecting on achieving the incredible honor of Eagle Scout "I get the opportunity to develop leadership skills through a lot of adventures and challenges, while making friends with others who enjoy being outdoors, conserving nature, being curious, and giving back to the community and each other. I am grateful to all of the people who have helped me on my journey, and I hope to do the same for others in my life. Being an Eagle Scout isn’t the end, it’s the beginning."
She also would like to encourage people to sign up for “Lights Out”
action alerts. "Although turning lights off all year is always a great idea for local wildlife, these alerts will remind you when most migratory birds are passing through our area-- a time when “lights out” is especially critical."
We congratulate Caroline on all her hard work and dedication to completing this amazing project and earning her Eagle Scout rank!