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Eagle leads fight against plant invasion



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Sam Ekstrom with his invasive-species nemesis, an Autumn Olive bush. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
September 14, 2011 - Boy Scout Sam Ekstrom took on an invasive species for his Eagle Project, removing more than 200 Autumn Olive bushes from Shiawassee Nature Preserve.

"I like the outdoors I hate seeing wild life areas taken over by invasive species," said Ekstom, 16, scout with Davisburg Troop 192. "It looks good they haven't grown back."

It will take an ongoing effort to keep out the plant, which was imported to the United States from Asia in the 1800s and grows up to 40 feet high and 50 feet wide.

Collin Walls, Springfield Township supervisor and Davisburg Rotarian, suggested the project. Completed last June, the project took a lot of organizing and coordination of scouts, adults volunteers, and business donations, he said.

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"It took my communications skills to a whole new level, talking to youths and adults too," Ekstrom said.

They made their own herbicide applicators out of PVC pipe, and spent two days tagging then removing the plants.

Sam Ekstrom, who lives in Springfield Township with his parents Lee and Heather Ekstrom, also received the Hornaday Conservation Award for distinguished service in natural resource conservation.

"We're proud of him," Heather said. "His dad is an Eagle that helped motivate him. Boy Scouts are truly fabulous. They give him a lot of skills he'll be able to use his whole life."

Sam plans to stay in scouting, working for his Eagle Palm award.

His 10 years in scouting include serving as instructor, senior patrol leader, patrol leader, chaplain aide, troop guide, den chief for Pack 133 of Andersonville Elementary School, flag coordinator, and summer camp counselor at Camp Tapico in Kalkaska.

He also earned the Baden Powell Award, the first for Troop 192, for exhibiting the highest ideals of Scouting during Summer Camp. He earned 33 Merit Badges and the WEBELOS Arrow of Light.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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