Four Boy Scouts took action recently to create bat houses in a cemetery, an outdoor learning area at a school, and food drives for two local charities.
Those community service projects, along with years of Scouting achievements, advanced the teens — Ben Altizer of Southgate, brothers Charles and Nathan Jerore of Wyandotte, and Nicklas Slone of Wyandotte — to Eagle status, the highest rank attainable in Boy Scouts of America.
According to BSA, only 4 percent of Scouts ever earn the rank. Requirements include earnng at least 21 merit badges; demonstating leadership within a troop; and planning, developing and leading a service project.
Ben and Nicklas are in Southgate Troop 1795 under the leadership of Scoutmaster Kevin Bowbly. The Jerore brothers are in Wyandotte Troop 1777 under the leadership of Scoutmaster Rob Smith.
Ben, son of Ken and Elizabeth Altizer, is 17 and a senior at Southgate Anderson High School. His Eagle project took place at Grogan Elementary School in Southgate.
“My mom’s a teacher, so I wanted to give back somehow to the school district,” Ben said.
After months of planning the project, Ben and fellow Scouts helped landscape behind the school. They cleaned up dilapidated flower boxes in an area with some trees.
“It was all overgrown and the wood was falling apart. We put in new wood, more stakes, cleaned up the overgrowth and mulched it,” he said.
Ben and his crew also added wood chips around three existing benches in the area, and then added a box of weather equipment students can use.
“Now it’s an outdoor learning environment so they can learn about outside,” he said.
Ben has been a Scout since he was in first grade.
“I had a great support network,” he said. “My dad was an assistant scoutmaster. He’s always been heavily involved. And I had some great leadership from the troop.”
He plans to go to college after high school graduation and study political science to work with communities, he said.
Charles Jerore Jr. is 17 and a senior at Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte. His parents are Chuck Jerore and Lisa Rader.
For his project, which took many months of planning, Charles collected food and returnable cans for Taylor-based Penrickton Center for Blind Children.
“We returned the cans and gave the proceeds (about $400) to Penrickton,” Charles said.
He and his crew left Scouting for Food collection bags at many doorsteps, and then collected the filled bags some days later. The canned goods he collected for Penrickton filled half a truck bed, he said.
Charles has been in Scouting since he was in first grade, and he set his sights on earning Eagle status at a young age.
“Once I figured out about Eagle, I decided to keep going for it,” he said. “It was something big to get.”
He’s already been accepted to Wayne State University, which offered him a generous scholarship, and plans to study biochemistry.
Nathan Jerore is the 15-year-old brother of Charles, and is a sophomore at Roosevelt.
He collected food and returnable bottles for the Salvation Army in Wyandotte. Planning the Eagle project took some time, and then he enlisted fellow troop members to help.
“We picked streets to go up and down and left fliers,” Nathan said. “A few days later, we went and picked stuff up. It was a lot of food. It filled our van pretty well.”
His returnable bottles netted about $300 for the Salvation Army, as well.
Nathan has been in Scouting since a young age, and stayed with it because he liked the people in the troop and he liked how he was able to help others through Scouting.
In the future, he’d like to be a collegiate wrestler and keep going to the Olympic level of the sport. He plans to study kinesiology.
Nicklas, son of Matt and Tylene Farkas and Jerry Slone, is 17 and a senior at Roosevelt.
His project — building 13 bat houses for 290-acre Michigan Memorial Cemetery Park in Flat Rock — took many months of planning. It came about when park groundskeeper John Fenech reached out to an adult involved with the troop.
“The houses were beneficial to the cemetery and park for two reasons: Bats reduce the population of mosquitoes and flies, and bats were moving into the crypts,” Nicklas said. “They’re very interesting animals.”
He researched, and then gathered the materials, including cedar planks and netting, to build the houses. First, Nicklas and his crew built a prototype house, and then they went to work to make more. Each bat house can be a home for five to 10 animals, he said.
Nicklas has been in Scouting since he was in the first grade.
“I continued because I wanted to be able to say I was one of the few,” he said.
After graduation, he plans to attend Wayne State University to study computer programming.