Niagara Gazette

October 13, 2013

Scouting out opportunities to serve the community

Two scouts have projects serving Niagara region

By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Jake Tucker’s project involved replacing all the worn out birdhouses on a Wheatfield nature trail used by special needs children and adults. 

Teresa Buchner’s project involves creating a “Bag of Courage” so that area homeless children might have something they could call their own.  

Jake, 14, of Grand Island, and Teresa, 13, of Niagara Falls, are among many area boy and girl scouts who are quietly serving the region by undertaking projects on their way to the highest medals in scouting.

Jake’s, seeking an Eagle Scout badge, decided to build 22 bird houses, which he and his father cut and drilled in their family basement and assembled in a friend’s workshop. The bird houses were recently installed on the trails at Opportunities Unlimited, where Jake’s father is a volunteer board member.  Birds along the trail responded immediately.

“As soon as we put them up, birds starting flying into the bird houses to make nests,” Jake said. “It was cool.”

As a result of that project, Jack was made an Eagle Scout Sunday in a ceremony which included about 40 letters of congratulations, from a wide variety of local and national leaders including U.S. presidents George Bush and George W. Bush; Vice President Joe Biden, and Eugene Cernan, the last astronaut to walk on the moon. 

Teresa Buchner will receive a silver Girl Scout badge for her “Bag of Courage” project, an idea which began because of her belief that dictionaries are an important part of a child’s education.

The Niagara Catholic eighth grader decided to help homeless children by filling bags to give out when they arrive at the Community Missions. The bags will include a dictionary, toothbrush, toothpaste, stuffed animals, hair brush, and other items.

“So often they come to the shelter with nothing but the clothes on their back,” explained Theresa. “Dictionaries have always helped me in school, so I thought that the dictionary might give them an advantage in school. I thought maybe it might help them.”

Her goal is to prepare 150 bags to be distributed over the next 2 years. 

Teresa  is among about 25 sixth to eighth grade girl scout cadettes working to obtain their silver badge in Niagara County. Each is doing a project to better the region, according to Kelly Garrow, from the Girl Scouts office in Lockport.  There are about 50 girl scouts in the ninth to 12th grade, working toward gold medals, she said.

As for Jake’s ascent to Eagle Scout, only about 2 percent of boy scouts in the nation achieve that rank, according to Stuart Schnettler of the Greater Niagara Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

In Jake’s Troop 630 at St. Stephen’s Church on Grand Island, at least  one or two boys a year have gone on for their Eagle Scout ranking over the last 50 years. The community benefits from each boy’s projects, including rebuilt nature trails area parks and information kiosks at the ball diamonds, according to his troop leader, Scott Swagler.  Just recently scouts built shelving for a food pantry in Kenmore; and built steps leading to the Lake Ontario in Newfane. Soon, the Grand Island VFW post will get a new roof and siding in an upcoming scout effort, Swagler said.

Most often, these projects are completed with donations. Jake’s bird houses were built with supplies from Home Depot. Teresa has sent letters to area businesses seeking donations for her “Bags of Courage,” and is asking those who wish to donate to her project to contact her at

Those who assist area scouts with their projects are getting more for their money, Jake’s cubmaster noted, because the communities benefit by the enhancements of the assorted projects and by the growth in the scouts who create and produce the projects.   

“I like to tell parents, we turn the scouts into people who want to talk to,” Swagler said. 

“The goal isn’t to do the most glamorous  project,” Swagler said. “They’re meant to teach the (scout) how to plan a project and to leave a legacy.”



·Boy Scouts of America Greater Niagara Frontier Council, 2860 Genesee Street, 891-4073 or visit online

·Girl Scouts of WNY, Lockport SVC Center, 5000 Cambria Road, Lockport, call 434-6212 or visit online at