Merced County Times Newspaper
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Scout completes Eagle Project with great coop at Merced Zoo


After many months of work, gracious donations and assistance, Forrest Johnson of Merced Scout Troop 88 has completed his Eagle Scout Project and is one step closer to the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.

The Eagle Scout Project is a community service focused merit project for qualified Venturer or Sea Scouts to demonstrate leadership while serving their local community.

For his project, Forrest decided to help improve the Merced Zoo with the designing and fabrication of a brand-new chicken coop. He had to learn a ton about welding, wood-working, and overall construction. But, thanks to his many amazing supporters, the ambitious project was made possible.

Here is a list of all the people and organizations that helped support this project:

Bill and Judy Buhl, Joandell Hahn, Joel and Amy Levine, Scott and Marla Pettygrove, Scott and Denise Skidmore, Jeff Stopper, Linton and Kathlen Wollen, Amie Marchini Home Care, Park Merced, Big Creek Lumber Atwater, Lowes Merced, Tractor Supply Atwater, Golden Valley High School Woodshop, and Merced High FFA Ag. Department.

“To begin with, and to place credit where credit’s due, I’d like to thank my father for guiding me through planning, designing, and building my project,” Forrest told the Times. “I’d also like to thank everyone who assisted me in welding and fitting, and delivering my project. I’d like to thank Merced High FFA for allowing me to utilize the shop to work in, and I’d like to thank all of my donors for supplying me with money to buy the resources I need. I couldn’t have done it without any of you, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

“One might assume that a project like building a chicken coop is straightforward, and one might be right, but I found it challenging and rewarding to undertake. Looking back on my experience planning, designing, and building the coop, I learned a lot about what goes into creating structures, not only of metal but wood too. I learned a lot from my dad about proper planning and techniques for precisely cutting, squaring, and fitting pieces, which I plan to implement in later projects.

“The hardest part of my project was the creation of the individual segments that eventually made up the walls and roof of the coop. Squaring is a very precise process that can’t be rushed, and when you try to rush it, things go haywire quickly. If you don’t start off your project with a nice square, every other part of it will be warped and won’t fit together. I learned this the hard way, often resorting to the cutting wheel to restart from square one. However, mistakes are simply lessons in disguise, and by the end of construction I learned the value of the saying ‘Measure twice, cut once.’

“I hope that this project will benefit the Zoo. The chicken coop grew quite a bit in the past couple of years, and this new coop will easily accommodate the new chickens and more growth if it is to happen. I also hope that the new chicken coop will attract more attention to the chickens. “

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