Mark Rapala, a senior at Saint Viator High School, earned the prestigious Eagle Scout rank on Sept. 29. Eagle Scout is the highest rank of Boy Scouts, and it includes the leading and completing of a self-chosen service project.
Rapala led St. James Boy Scout Troop 166 of Arlington Heights, volunteers of the Friends of Busse Woods, family, friends and neighbors in an island restoration project in Busse Woods for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and for the overall community that enjoys the preserve.
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His project entailed the removal (cutting and burning) of the invasive plant buckthorn on a one acre island, with the goal being to restore the island to its native form. Native trees such as hickory and oak were identified and marked with paint to preserve. One hundred pounds of native grass seed were distributed throughout the island for reseeding, and garbage was removed.
The project was undertaken over a six-month time frame, and as a group, exceeded 500 hours of service. Initially planned as a winter project, it became an early spring project due to the record-breaking warm winter. The weather allowed for only one crossing to the island by foot over the frozen lake; the rest was completed using a canoe for transportation. This extended the complexity and length of the project.
Rapala's parents are especially delighted not only in the outcome of the project, but that Mark handled all communications himself with the Boy Scouts and the Friends of Busse Woods, giving him true ownership of the project.
The Friends of Busse Woods has an Volunteer Steward, and Rapala found that he was able to communicate and work well with him. Rapala continues to assist on various workdays of the Friends of Busse Woods, and additional volunteers are always welcomed for those who would like to help. For information, visit www.bussewoods.net.
The Troop 166 Scout Master and Assistant Scout Master were an inspiration to Rapala along his path toward Eagle. Under their leadership, he found fellowship in his troop and enjoyed a variety of memorable activities.
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