Eagle scouts and Fermilab give Kane County chimney swift population a boost

From left: Ryan Campbell (FESS), Benjamin Haberthur (Veterans Conservation Corps of Chicagoland), scout Theo Li and Dave Shemanske (FESS) stand in front of one of three chimney swift towers built by Boy Scout Troop 3 on Fermilab grounds. Photo: Ali Sundermier, OC

From left: Ryan Campbell (FESS), Benjamin Haberthur (Veterans Conservation Corps of Chicagoland), scout Theo Li and Dave Shemanske (FESS) stand in front of one of three chimney swift towers built by Boy Scout Troop 3 on Fermilab grounds. Photo: Ali Sundermier, OC

Boy Scout Troop 3 of Elgin has built three chimney swift towers on the Fermilab site with the help of the laboratory’s Roads and Grounds Department. Eagle Scout candidate Theo Li led the effort.

The scouts’ project is part of a strong push across Kane County to bring the chimney swift population to sustainable levels. According to a 2014 Chicago Tribune article, the number of these small gray birds has dropped 80 percent in Illinois since the 1960s. The scouts spent a total of 488 hours building and installing towers around Kane County to give the birds a place to nest.

The Veterans Conservation Corps of Chicagoland provided the supplies to build the towers, and the scouts raised additional funds to purchase extra materials. Roads and Grounds helped the local Eagle Scout troop organize their construction at the lab.

Planning for the project began last year, and in April, the scouts began building the towers off site. In June they finished building and installing the towers, which are 14-and-a-half feet tall.

“Jim Kalina, Ryan Campbell and the rest of Fermilab Roads and Grounds were a huge help in building these towers,” Li said. “I appreciate the VCC of Chicagoland, the Kane County Audubon Society and Fermilab for letting me do this project.”