The Fossil Rim Wildlife Center education department was already in the midst of a project to refurbish 52 bunk beds from its Wolf Ridge Cabins, but Boy Scout Troop 301 based in Weatherford recently visited to be difference-makers in that respect.
“The bunk bed project started back in late August with me and our conservation education interns (Caitlin Pyle and Ellie Helton),” said Chelsea Powell, Fossil Rim camp manager. “It was a big, time-consuming undertaking – a lot of muscle and sweat.”
Unexpected assistance arose when Scott Hughes, Fossil Rim IT director, approached the education department with a proposal that his son’s Boy Scout troop could aid the cause as one of their service projects. They arrived the evening of Oct. 7 and rested up to work the following day.
“Caitlin, Ellie and I had completed the upgrade of 14 bunk beds and put them back in cabins before the scouts arrived, but we had many more left to refurbish,” Powell said. “They hit the ground running at 7:30 a.m. and got the bunks out of the cabins, which is a difficult task in itself because of the small size of the doors. The troop formed an assembly line for sanding, staining, getting braces put on and putting new plywood on. They worked really hard to finish 14 more.”
Powell made sure all the scouts were able to go on a tour with Fossil Rim Programs Coordinator Katie Hunholz and the interns before they headed home.
“I think it’s really important that campers coming to do a service project understand how appreciated they are,” Powell said. “We also want them to have fun and enjoy the experience of seeing the animals, since this is Fossil Rim after all, as well as understand our vision and mission.”
Powell pointed out that Wolf Ridge Nature Camp and the cabins are an important part of Fossil Rim’s education department. Powell, who got her start at Fossil Rim on Aug. 17, also had more than a few words on the efforts of Pyle and Helton.
“I’m totally spoiled to have started at Fossil Rim with these two here,” she said. “They are very enthusiastic go-getters. Caitlin is working on a huge sustainability project that models the recycling program for Fossil Rim – utilizing what we do that is good and improving on other aspects, as well. Ellie has done several projects along the way.
“They do a great job educating the public and are amazing ladies. A favorite quote of mine is ‘a good manager is hiring creative people and getting out of their way.’ That’s definitely applicable to these two.”
Back in August, day one of the project saw the education department at work alongside members of Fossil Rim’s support services department in the woodshop. As it turned out, Powell, Pyle, Helton and the support services staff refurbished the final 24 bunk beds in the days after the scouts departed.
“I think every department at Fossil Rim works really hard, but support goes above and beyond for their own projects and those of others,” Powell said. “They have been a huge source of support for me, and this project doesn’t get done without them. They work great together, and I’m always impressed by them.”
When asked about the future, Powell’s enthusiasm was reminiscent of her impressive interns.
“We’re painting our cabins, reconstructing an outdoor kitchen area, revamping our Activities Barn to have an outdoor classroom that overlooks the giraffe pasture (Game Preserve), and the amphitheater is being redone to create a different and outstanding outdoor classroom,” she said. “I’m pretty excited. Our education department is always growing and changing for the better.”
-Tye Chandler, Marketing Associate