Tweet Jean Payne retired 20 years ago from her job as an Orange County schoolteacher. These days, the 83-year-old tries her best to stay active and enjoys her free time with her energetic dog. “You’d think after 30 years of teaching autistic children, I could teach a dog not to jump. It’s a harder job,” Payne said. As Payne describes […]
UPDATE (October 10, 2017): Vandals destroyed these bird signs around Lake Adair over the weekend. If you have outdoor security cameras, please check them and call police if you see anything. This is such a shame as these kids worked so hard to do something nice for the community.
For those who are curious during their walk around Lake Adair, the signs identifying birds in the area originated with an Eagle Scout project in 1997. Bale Dalton and Troop 20
0 erected these signs 20 years ago, and this year the troop revisited the project to refurbish the signs with the encouragement of a nine-year-old girl.
“My daughter Abi grew up here on the lake and noticed their dilapidated condition. It was kind of her dream to get them refurbished,” said Lawrence Kolin, the father of Abi Kolin. “She connected with the troop, and they kind of adopted her.”
Abi, her father explained, enjoys being outdoors and is involved in a wilderness group called The Creekers. She was excited to take part in the project and created a PowerPoint presentation that outlined what the troop needed to do to raise the funds and schedule their time.
“They looked at my plan for the project and put everyone to work,” Abi said.
Troop 200 had an organizational meeting and added to Abi’s ideas. They then pitched the project to Bruce Blackton, a businessman and friend of troop leader Paul Layton. Blackton had also, independently, reached out to Layton about the possibility of the Boy Scouts refurbishing the signs when he noticed their deterioration during his routine walks around the lake.
After hearing the Scouts pitch the plan initiated by Abi, Blackton funded the project.
Layton said Blackton had once commented that the signs truly reference the birds in the area — you’d see a sign, and you could find that bird in the lake. Lawrence Kolin agreed.
“You just stand there long enough, and you’ll see it. There’s just a huge amount of bird life,” Kolin said. “I guess they have in their programming that this is a stop on their journey.”
With the interest in the birds from Lake Adair residents, the funding from Blackton and the help of Greg Young at Great Graphics Photoscan, Troop 200 was ready to get to work.
They scheduled troop members who could help over several Saturdays and began by taking apart the old signs where the roofs and framing around the bird information had rotted. Scouts dismantled the old signs, painted the uprights supporting them and replaced the roofs over each structure.
Troop leader Paul Layton said the boys didn’t understand the importance of the project at first but soon gained knowledge and took pride in their accomplishment.
“They’re real proud of themselves. The boys learned a lot of woodworking skills as far as how to nail stuff together. Just to take care of the lake and something that Eagle Scouts have done in the past years,” Layton said.
In addition to enhancing the appearance of the signs, the troop added unique codes that can be scanned with cellphones. Each code leads to the Audubon Society’s information for that specific bird.
Troop 200’s work on this project enhances visitors’ and residents’ engagement with all Lake Adair has to offer.
“People come from all over our community to walk the lake and share in its beauty,” Kolin said. “This helps them to appreciate the wildlife.”