When considering possibilities for his Eagle Scout Project, Noah Ventura’s thoughts had turned to Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, where his family frequented. For two years, this project had sat on the Refuge’s Eagle Scout potential projects list, waiting for the right Scout with the proper combination of leadership, ambition, and drive to tackle the challenge. Many Scouts would hear about the logistical difficulties associated with the project, and immediately ask to hear about the next project.
Not Noah. When Noah heard about how both staff and visitors were getting lost on the approximately six miles of trails at Wood Marsh, he immediately began setting his mind on how he would pull off this project.
Noah spent over 300 hours across 10 months on the project. He cut boards down to size, sanded, drilled, embossed letters, and painted posts. He then had to navigate an additional process: The refuge archeological process.
Noah’s project was located in an area considered to be archaeologically significant. The Mason Neck peninsula had traditionally been used in the past by the Native American Dogue tribe, as well as colonialists like George Washington and George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Amy Wood, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Region 5 archeologist came out on site the day of the project installation to demonstrate and supervise the scouts in a series of archeological surveys at each of the proposed installation locations.
Braving the threat of an incoming storm, Noah and 12 other scouts installed 19 new signs in 6 different locations. “It’s a really cool project,” says Ventura. “The Woodmarsh Trail is all about connecting the community with nature, and the signs let you know where you are, so the people who use the trail know where they are trying to go.”
The project was a team effort. “I could not have done this without the help of my friends,” says Ventura. Youth volunteers from other Boys Scout Troops, Girl Scout Troops, Carl Sandburg Middle School, and Fort Hunt Elementary School helped with the project. Visitor Services Manager, Rosalind Wu, was on hand to offer assistance and lend a hand as well