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Stream Team Adventures! The Meramec River Eagle Scout Service Project! 6/13/2015

June 28, 2015

Eagle Scout Cleanup 042So we find ourselves early on the morning of Saturday, June 13th in a canoe on the waters of the Meramec River. We are at the river access of the Pacific Palisades Conservation Area in Pacific, MO, and we are here for a cleanup float organized by a Boy Scout named Michael Jadwisiak. He is here to carry out his Eagle Scout Service Project, with a touch of stewardship and adventure, and today we are floating 7 miles to the Allenton Access to haul whatever debris and garbage we can find out of the water and riparian corridor along the way.

Eagle Scout Cleanup 015Now I am going to bet that some of you are Boy Scouts or know a person involved in Scouts. In the steps that a Scout must take on the long journey to becoming an Eagle Scout, the “Eagle Scout Service Project” is a big and important one. It is a project that the Scout comes up with that must meet the following requirements: “While a Life Scout (the rank below Eagle Scout), plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project must benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.) The project proposal must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your unit leader and unit committee, and the council or district before you start.”

Eagle Scout Cleanup 075The Project Purpose is stated as: “In addition to providing service and fulfilling the part of the Scout Oath, ‘To help other people at all times,’ one of the primary purposes of the Eagle Scout service project is to learn leadership skills, or to improve or demonstrate leadership skills you already have. Related to this are important lessons in project management and taking responsibility for a significant accomplishment.” An opportunity for them to lead the helm in service of those around them in a big project, with an emphasis on their role as the leader throughout.

Eagle Scout Cleanup 096Mike started as a Cub Scout in 2004, and then the Boy Scouts in 2009. He told me has been in Scouts for about 11 years, and in the summers he works on the Meramec River for his uncle at Forest 44 Canoe Rental. He would see Missouri Stream Teams out on the river occasionally, conducting cleanups and making a difference, and he was inspired to focus his project on taking care of a community that is very much a part of his life, as well as so many of the rest of us. He got in contact with Stream Team headquarters, and then went about planning this exciting and impactful day.

Eagle Scout Cleanup 066So we left Pacific Palisades with the Scouts ahead of us, cruising down the river in our flotilla of canoes (and a jon boat) looking to sweep up whatever they didn’t get. For the most part they were doing a great job of clearing the trash ahead of us, so we rolled along on the current, appreciating the opportunity to be on the water in the warming morning air. Passing gravel bars and short statured bluffs, working our way over submerged sycamores and around sweeping curves, it was turning out to be a perfect day to be on the water.

Eagle Scout Cleanup 133But if there is one thing that I’ve learned from my past Stream Team experiences…if there isn’t trash ON the river…there is usually some in the woods along it. You get an eye for the signs; a random handful of cans, an obscured tire in the brush, or that telltale pile of river debris from past floods that is always a sure bet to contain plastic and styrofoam. Somewhat minuscule “interventions”, if I can expand on a term my friend Jay has coined for the presence of human infrastructure in nature, which I find more and more appropriate every time I see anything that doesn’t belong. So we would land the boats, make our way into the brush, and spend some time and energy dragging tires and other various objects out of the woods to take back with us to properly dispose of. We ended up removing quite a bit of garbage as we made our way down 7 miles of beautiful Meramec River; a caravan of canoes loaded up with tires and trash.

Eagle Scout Cleanup 111We had spent a good amount of time on land, but the most dramatic find of the day was when a few of the more determined members of our crew (James, Brian, and Rachel) worked to remove a 20 foot long 18″ diameter plastic culvert pipe from a log jam in some swift water. Freeing this mammoth corrugated straw and dragging its floating bulk down the current for a ways, we worked at the edge of a gravel bar to strap the monster piece of trash to the top of James’ boat. It was at that moment when a bald eagle circled a few times overhead, just above the treetops, as if it was raising a wingtip in thanks for our work there that day.

Eagle Scout Cleanup 106Overall, the result of Michael’s Eagle Scout Service Project was the removal of 22 tires (including 12 rims), 20 red mesh bags and 30 big green mesh bags of garbage, and one 20 foot section of rigid plastic corrugated pipe from 7 miles of this very loved and appreciated river in eastern Missouri. Everyone put forth their best effort on the water, especially James, paddling his jon boat more than half the length of this stretch to get that pipe out of the waterway where it doesn’t belong.

Eagle Scout Cleanup 149

Mike and some of the volunteers with our pile of treasure!

Among organizations that do a lot for the communities they are a part of, the Boy Scouts of America are some of the most dedicated and thorough. Go to any Missouri Stream Team cleanup event, and you are sure to see a troop there, getting into the woods and making it a prettier and healthier place. As one of the 20 or so volunteers that got to be a part of this adventure, I want to personally thank everybody that came along, especially soon-to-be-Eagle-Scout Michael Jadwisiak. Because of your efforts, Mike, coming up with the project and leading the way on this productive Saturday, a piece of river that may otherwise be neglected and trashed has been given new life and health. It is young men like you taking it upon themselves to improve the world around them, that will lead us all in the right direction, and are surely an inspiration for all scouts and advocates to come.

Eagle Scout Cleanup 11412236_986289644716710_6829893863171451051_o

My son and I, making our way along the Meramec River.

  1. The eagle soared for the Eagle Scout…love it!

  2. Whoo hoo for Eagle Scouts! I’m a mom to three. Goodness, that water does look high.

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