Getting His Wings

Properly installing bat houses is trickier than building them, says aspiring Eagle Scout Ezra Hardin. Photo by Rimas Zailskas

Ezra Hardin, a sophomore at Hendersonville High, aims to become an Eagle Scout, and to obtain that status — the highest rank in Boy Scouting — he needed to add to a long list of other accomplishments the completion of a local service project. The 15-year-old Laurel Park resident approached town manager Alison Alexander, who suggested installing bat houses in the community of 2,300 residents.

Though the cedar boxes were already purchased, the houses still needed to be constructed and painted. But the trickiest challenge was correct installation — successful bat houses are generally mounted two to a pole reaching around 20 feet high, and must be carefully directed to retain sunlight and warmth. Urban planning came into the scheme, as well: “We painted the poles with a treated wood that cures itself,” says Ezra, “and I had to do a lot of research to find out what the materials would cost the town.”

Ezra’s mother Eliza notes that her son was required to oversee the bat-house-building project and then delegate key tasks to other Scouts during established work days. “This shows your leadership skills,” explains Ezra, who is already the head of his troop.

Building nesting areas for bats — similar to planting pollinator gardens for threatened butterflies — is a trending ecological issue. In Henderson County’s unincorporated Bat Cave community, the decline of the native winged mammal due to White Nose Syndrome is so alarming that hikers are no longer allowed in the 186-acre nature preserve that also includes a portion of Rutherford County (see related story in this issue). Even after public bat boxes are installed, it generally takes about a year for bats to find their ways to the sanctuaries, after the hibernation cycle is completed and the weather warms up.

But it won’t take Ezra that long to find out if he’s reached Eagle status. When the teen spoke to Bold Life, he was preparing paperwork for the “nitpicky” process of submitting his project for review by the regional Daniel Boone Council of the Boy Scouts, and after that, he hopes, “I should know in about two weeks.” Although he could have sited his service project anywhere in Hendersonville or nearby, “I thought it would be more of a special thing to do something [specifically] in Laurel Park,” he says.

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