Rechkemmer continues family legacy with Eagle Scout project

Michael Rechkemmer, 18, earned his Eagle Scout rank a few weeks ago. He’s proud of his accomplishment, noting that not every Scout completes an Eagle Scout project. (Photos submitted)

Rechkemmer stands at an interpretive sign located at the Eby’s Mills Wildlife Area. The property holds special meaning to him, as his stepfather’s family used to own property at Eby’s Mills.

Rechkemmer and his volunteers planted 4,600 trees at the Eby’s Mills Wildlife Area for his Eagle Scout project. Rechkemmer worked with Conservation on the project.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Monticello High School senior and recent 18-year-old Michael Rechkemmer just became an Eagle Scout.

     With a love of the outdoors and trees, Rechkemmer knew he wanted to do something in that respect for his Eagle Scout project. Initially, he thought about planting trees along N. Sycamore Street in Monticello after so many were removed for the street reconstruction project.

     “I talked to the city, and with the water lines and utilities, that just didn’t work out,” said Rechkemmer. “But I knew I still wanted to do something with trees.”

     After some research, Rechkemmer ended up planting 4,600 native hardwood trees and shrubs in the Eby’s Mill Wildlife Area, owned and managed by Jones County Conservation.

     Rechkemmer has a family connection to Eby’s Mill, so this project was extra special for him and his family. His step-father is Ben Bruggeman, with Bruggeman Lumber. Ben’s grandfather used to own forest property at Eby’s Mills before it was turned into a hay field.

     Woodworking runs in Rechkemmer’s family. Aside from his step-father, his father, Caleb Krugger, builds furniture. Rechkemmer also worked for Doug Green Cabinets and Furniture.

     “I wanted to give back,” said Rechkemmer. “I’ve always seen the after-process, and never the people planting the trees.”

     All of the trees at Eby’s Mill were machine-planted versus by hand, due to the sheer number. The first batch of trees were planted in May. However, due to the summer drought, Rechkemmer said they sadly lost some of the young trees.

     “About eighty percent survived,” he said.

     Rechkemmer got advice from Jones County Conservation on the right trees to plant. He chose to include shrubs for the many deer that roam the area.

     “I chose (to plant) whatever was there before it was logged and turned into a hay field,” he explained.

     Rechkemmer raised the $6,500 needed by talking to various businesses and lumber mills in Iowa for donations. The funds will also cover the cost of a sign noting his Eagle Scout project.

     “I had plenty of help planting from Scouts and Conservation,” said Rechkemmer.

     Because they’re youth Scouts, Rechkemmer explained they are not allowed to operate machinery.

     Curtis Behrens, the Natural Resource Manager with Conservation, worked a lot with Rechkemmer on his project.

     “It’s always refreshing to get involved with youth who want to donate any time and energy on big projects like this,” praised Behrens. “Michael seemed very proud of this work and what he and his volunteer recruits were able to accomplish. It’s not every day that a high school student can say they helped plant a new woodland.

     “Given the history of the site and Michael’s connection to its past, Jones County Conservation was delighted to help make this legacy project happen, as it ties both natural resources and cultural history together for the benefit of countless wildlife, as well as Jones County residents and visitors. We hope this is a jump start for Michael and his friends to continue contributing towards environmental stewardship efforts and wish him best of luck in his future endeavors,” added Behrens.

     While some additional work remains at the site, Rechkemmer acknowledged the fact that completing his Eagle Scout project is a huge milestone.

     “Once you become a Boy Scout, you might as well put the work in to become an Eagle Scout,” he encouraged.

     Rechkemmer has been in Scouts since he started as a Cub. He plans to continue his involvement in Scouts, noting that there’s a lot to assist with.

     “It’s not over yet.”

     Throughout his years in Scouts, Rechkemmer said he’s enjoyed the opportunities where he was able to help others. He also made memories camping out and during the big summer trips to New Mexico, backpacking in the mountains.

     Rechkemmer is already looking ahead to his future after high school, wanting to start his own car wash/detailing business.

     He is the son of Rachel and Ben Bruggeman and Caleb Krugger.


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