Oswald’s Eagle project benefits Parks & Rec

On Nov. 26, Ben Oswald (right) received his Eagle Scout Award. His older brother, Ryan, became an Eagle Scout in June 2018.

Ben Oswald of Monticello recently became an Eagle Scout. He built bat houses for the Baty Disc Golf Course to combat the mosquito problem. (Photos submitted)

Oswald got permission from Monticello Parks and Rec a year ago to build and install bat houses on the disc golf course. He got to work in his family’s garage building the houses after extensive research.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

As he approaches his 18th birthday, Monticello High School senior Ben Oswald is glad to check one item off his list: Becoming an Eagle Scout. 

A year ago, Oswald started his project by meeting with Monticello Parks and Recreation Director Jacob Oswald. Oswald’s idea was to build bat houses for the Baty Disc Golf Course here in Monticello. 

“They only needed four (houses),” explained Oswald. 

“I was willing to make more.” 

It’s not that the disc golf course has a bat problem. Just the opposite. Oswald said they have a bug and mosquito problem. He witnessed it first-hand while playing Frisbee golf on the course during a P.E. class. 

“My neck was swarmed with mosquitos,” he said. 

So, Oswald did some extensive research and realized that bats eat about 2,000 insects in a night. 

“They easily eat 1,000 mosquitos,” he said. “So I want to curb the population so people can enjoy the Frisbee (disc) golf course.” 

“Mosquitos have been an issue at the disc golf course,” reiterated Jacob Oswald. “Addressing that was something we had been looking into, especially with the new Willow Trail.” 

Jacob said Parks & Rec actually thought of installing bat houses, but when Oswald approached him about his Eagle project idea, they felt that would be the perfect project. 

Once Oswald got the verbal “OK” to commence, he also researched how to build a bat house, noting how tall it needed to be, what materials to use, etc. He built his 10 feet above the ground, facing southeast/south because of the sun. The 2-foot-by-2-foot houses are also painted black to absorb the sunlight. 

“They’re not huge, but they can fit multiple bats,” said Oswald. 

His original idea was to build a gaga ball pit for Sacred Heart School. However, Oswald explained that the school’s insurance wouldn’t support his project. 

Oswald knew he needed just under $200 to complete his project. He went to Spahn & Rose Lumber Company in Monticello for all of his supplies. They estimated $150, and Spahn & Rose donated $50 worth of materials. 

Oswald set up a donation bucket at the Boy Scout pancake breakfast earlier this year and made $20. He had an anonymous Boy Scout family donate $25. Then Oswald’s own family contributed $60. 

When it came to building the houses, Oswald took on the leadership role, as required in carrying out your Eagle Scout project. He sought the help of his fellow Scouts and family members. The Scouts stained and primed the wood, which required two working days. The Oswald family of six painted the houses. 

“I led the volunteers and made sure everyone knew what they were supposed to do,” said Oswald. 

The bat houses were installed over the summer. 

“I wanted to get them installed before the ground froze,” said Oswald. 

They sit on two poles, with two houses on each pole. Oswald said city employees assisted in setting the poles in cement at the disc golf course. 

“Overall it wasn’t very time consuming,” he said of spending a total of 50 hours on his project. “I’m grateful it didn’t require a lot of time. I was lucky.” 

Eagle Scout projects are supposed to benefit a non-profit, and Oswald felt that Monticello Parks and Rec was the perfect recipient. 

“Ben did a tremendous job of doing his research in determining what style of bat house we should use, as well as the best location to put them up,” praised Jacob Oswald. “We’ve heard that the mosquitos were not as big of an issue this year, which tells us his project has been a success.” 

On Nov. 26, Oswald officially received his Eagle Scout Award after seven years of working toward this milestone. His older brother, Ryan, also earned his Eagle Scout Award in June 2018. 

“It’s a huge amount of relief,” said Oswald, who turns 18 in January. “I didn’t want to go until the final minute.” 

He’s looking forward to using this huge accomplishment on his college and job applications. 

Of his years in Scouts, Oswald said he would always remember the once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as trips to the Boundary Waters in Canada and to Philmont Scout Camp in New Mexico. 

“Those sites are absolutely amazing,” marveled Oswald. “Those are such unique experiences.” 

When Oswald graduates high school in May, he plans to attend the University of Northern Iowa. He is still undecided about his major, but he has some time. 

“I like math and science, and I’m interested in computers,” he said. “I’m good with technology, which will always be a huge part of our lives.” 

Oswald wants to focus on college, but said he’ll always stay connected to the Scouts in some fashion. 

“I plan to give back,” he said of an organization that helped him immensely. 

Of all the lessons he learned in Scouts, Oswald said the biggest is knowing that everyone is different in the world and we need to respect those differences. 

Oswald is the son of Lisa and Dean Oswald of Monticello. 


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