AISD Student Partners with Camp Mabry for Eagle Scout Project

An Austin ISD student put skills acquired at Anderson and Lanier high schools to good use last May.

Luke Fuka, a member of Troop 5 Austin and student at both Lanier and Anderson High Schools, wanted to do something special to support the troops. When he approached TXARNG Natural Resource Manager Linda Brown and Garrison Commander Lt Col Mancuso at Camp Mabry he found an Eagle Scout project that would combine his welding skills and his love of the outdoors.

Luke teamed with Lanier Welding Teacher Tracey Cortez and other students in his welding class to design and build two large fire pits. Luke drafted the components for two fire pits using Solid Works, which he learned how to use and gained certification during an engineering design and presentation class at Anderson.  During the Lanier welding class, under the supervision of Cortez, Luke cut metal pieces out on the CNC plasma table, and welded them together, finishing them with a baking soda blast and coats of heat-resistant paint. The distinctive fire pits sport the Camp Mabry name and a contemporary, angled style. Besides looking stylish and providing a social focal point at the Camp Mabry pavilions, the fire pits reduce the impact of campfires on the ground. The fire pits took about three months of class time and after-school work to complete.

The project also included building beehives and bee houses.  Veterans and the community will learn about bee keeping, honey production and pollination. The bee houses support native Texas bees which are vital to the pollination of indigenous Texas plants, are less social than either bats or European honeybees, and prefer solitary tube-like dwellings to live in.

Even Austin’s beloved bats have benefited from the Eagle Project, as Luke led Troop 5 Scouts, and other Austin ISD students in building two new bat houses. The new bat houses are, of course, much smaller than the well-known Congress Street Bridge, but will give bats the option to bring their insect-eating presence to the fields of Camp Mabry.

Luke’s project, which took over 600 volunteer hours to complete fulfills not only requirements for an Eagle Project but also for the William T. Hornaday award. The Hornaday is a program that promotes sound stewardship of natural resources and respect for the outdoors. The Scouting award, originally called the Wildlife Protection Medal, was created in 1914 by Dr. Hornaday. Hornaday was a pioneer of natural resource conservation, who was instrumental in preventing the extinction of American bison. Fewer than 1200 medals have been handed in the last 80 years, and it is an honor that requires a great commitment and achievement over periods of months or even years to earn.