With the help of Taylor Rigot and his fellow Scouts, bats now have a home at Reed Creek Wetlands Interpretive Park.
Rigot, 18, was recognized at the Feb. 21 Columbia County Commission meeting for his involvement in organizing a move to have six bat houses installed at the park in September.
"We presented him with a plaque of appreciation and recognized his leadership ability to orchestrate the project and lead the Scouts to get the project completed," said Barry Smith, the county's Community and Leisure Services Division director. "We basically recognized him publicly for his achievement of his Eagle Scout status as well as thanking him for the project he did with Columbia County."
Rigot, a Lakeside High School senior, said he started the project in the late summer after consulting the county Extension Service and Smith. Rigot said he researched how to build and where to place bat houses before organizing fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 119 to construct and install the bat houses for the park on Park Lane.
"I learned probably more in the last couple of months of Scouting, though I'm still in it, than I have in my entire year of Scouting," Rigot said.
He said he learned about scheduling and organizing not only himself but also fellow troop members. He found it especially difficult to work around his own job, his school tennis practice and matches, and other obligations such as piano lessons. He bought materials, constructed the six bat houses and installed them along the wood line at the park in September. A few snags along the way, including initially purchasing the wrong type of wood, did not slow Rigot nor his team.
Rigot was officially named an Eagle Scout in November. To achieve the status of Eagle, a Scout must earn all the necessary merit badges and have the Eagle project completed before his 18th birthday, Rigot said; his deadline was Oct. 11.
"I ended up turning in all my materials on my birthday," Rigot said. "It kind of stunk to look at my birthday as a deadline, but in the end, on that day, it was great."
Smith said Rigot's bat houses were a perfect fit into the wetlands park and a wildlife habitat enhancement program for which Columbia County recently earned a $7,500 grant.
"Bats eat insects," Smith said. "So that will certainly hold down the insect population, mosquitoes, etc. ... They fit, the project certainly ties into the wildlife habitat enhancement program we are implementing there. It's definitely a nature-based project as well as science."
Rigot said he's happy he decided to pursue the project and his Eagle Scout status, which is something he could never go back and get later. The student said he plans to study history at Presbyterian College and possibly become a high school history teacher, he said.
"I got done and that was what I was aiming at," Rigot said. "I thought at one time I wasn't going to finish it. I just really wanted to have something to show since I've been in Cub Scouts 12 or 13 years. There isn't a club for Life Scouts. There is only a certain number of people who go on to become Eagle Scouts.''
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