Over the years, NAS Patuxent River has provided opportunities that have helped numerous local teens earn their Eagle Scout rank and Sea Scout Liam Maupin, a senior at Great Mills High, can now be counted among them.
Recently, Maupin spearheaded a project that resulted in 20 bat houses being constructed and hung in various locations onboard Pax River and Navy Recreation Center Solomons. The project’s inspiration can be traced a few years back to a trip out west and a visit to a cave where Maupin first learned from a park ranger that North American bats are being threatened by a lethal fungus called white-nose syndrome.
“When it came time to do my Eagle Scout project, I remembered what other scouts told me, ‘Don’t do a project because it’s easy, do one you’ll be vested in,’” said Maupin, with both Sea Scout Ship 1942 in Arlington, Virginia, and Boy Scout Troop 413 in Lexington Park. “I remembered the bats and found out some species here [have been proposed for listing as endangered] and I thought maybe I could help.”
Eventually, Maupin was put in touch with Pax River Environmental Planning and Conservation Director Kyle Rambo, who has worked at the air station for the past 40 years. Not only is Rambo a former scout leader and father of an eagle scout, he earned his own eagle scout ranking in 1973.
“Through my connection with community scout masters, they know Pax River is a resource as a project beneficiary,” said Rambo. “Not only can we provide the necessary leadership opportunity required for these scouts to earn their Eagle Scout rank, we’re also helping to teach them something. They learn to plan, problem solve, delegate tasks, and inspire others. And as the beneficiary of their project, we’re able to accomplish some tasks that likely wouldn’t get funded or be done otherwise. It’s a bonus for everyone involved.”
Rambo explained that each scout must first turn in a detailed project plan for review that includes a description of the project, safety plan, list of materials, tools needed, and how many scouts and adults are needed to do certain tasks, etc.
“There are a number of submittals that need to be approved by the sponsor, which is me, and also by their troop and district scouting representatives,” Rambo noted. “Everyone reviews it to make sure it meets all our requirements.”
Once the project was greenlighted, Maupin, whose dad Brett Maupin is an aircraft mechanic with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20, went to work using old materials provided by Rambo in a “reduce-reuse-recycle” effort.
“He supplied discarded pallets and we used the wood to make the bat houses, which helped keep the project [environmentally and fiscally responsible],” Maupin said.
Normally a project like this would be done as a group, but due to COVID-19, Maupin bagged and delivered individual kits for others to build in the safety of their own home. The kits included all materials necessary for volunteers to build a bat house, with one additional item inside that showed some creativity – a QR code – that when scanned, took builders to either a pictorial instruction or a video for assembly assistance.
“I filmed a video of instructions with a friend and put it on YouTube, and then worked with another friend to make a [pictorial] description of how to put the kits together,” Maupin said. “The QR code embraced technology and helped reduce paper.”
Once all the bat houses were built and collected, Maupin worked with MWR’s Recreation Director and Marina Manager Mardy Millen to locate useful and appropriate spots at Pax River and NRC Solomons to hang them.
“I had an idea where I wanted them to go,” added Maupin, who has spent a lot of time over the years at Pax and Solomons camping, cycling, canoeing, swimming, golfing, and participating in various scout activities. “The main theme was close to water and campsites, so the bats could eat the nasty biting insects, which would in turn be good for the health and safety of the public.”
At the completion of the project, Maupin supplied Rambo and Millen with the directional coordinates of each bat house, so they can be easily located and serviced in the future, if needed. Some of the bat houses bear a wood-burned Batman symbol, courtesy of Maupin’s brother.
“I figured that would help people know what [the structures] are and that it might be educational by getting them thinking more about bats,” noted Maupin, who after graduation is headed to the Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Of the bat species positively identified onboard Pax River, two of them – the Little Brown Bat and Tri-colored Bat – have been proposed for listing as endangered species. All 12 species of bats occurring in Maryland are considered to be Species of Greatest Conservation Need.