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Project with ORNL helps Hardin Valley senior earn Boy Scouts award

 

  Hardin Valley Academy senior Noah Kaye worked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Neil Giffen to build and install fish attractors that netted Kaye the prestigious Boy Scouts of America Hornaday Award. Hinds Creek was one of the locations for the attractors, which provide cover for sunfish. Hardin Valley Academy senior Noah Kaye worked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Neil Giffen to build and install fish attractors that netted Kaye the prestigious Boy Scouts of America Hornaday Award. Hinds Creek was one of the locations for the attractors, which provide cover for sunfish. (hi-res image)

Through a project with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Hardin Valley Academy's Noah Kaye has earned the Boy Scouts of America's Hornaday Award and redbreast sunfish have some new hangouts.

Kaye, a member of Troop 46, Toqua District, worked with Neil Giffen and Kelly Roy of ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division to install fish attractors in Hinds Creek, where populations of sunfish have been declining. Routine monitoring has also shown reduced size and numbers of sunfish in Bear and East Fork Poplar creeks. For Kaye, who plans to major in chemical engineering at Tennessee Technological University, it was a chance to make a difference and to earn a coveted award.

"Earning the Hornaday Award is important to me because preserving and enhancing the environment is essential," Kaye said. "If we don't do this, all things in nature that are beautiful will disappear and the world will be a duller place."

Researchers from the ORNL Aquatics Laboratory determined that they would need about 20 fish attractors, which provide cover and protect small fish from predators. The attractors had to be easily deployable and able to work in water as shallow as 16 inches. At least four of the attractors had to be made of biodegradable (natural) materials for deployment in Hinds Creek, which is off the Oak Ridge Reservation. Fish attractors deployed on the reservation could be made of other materials, including PVC pipe.

To qualify for the Hornaday Award, Kaye had to design and build the attractors, although Roy and Giffen provided guidance. Kaye built the attractors with cedar logs bound together and anchored with wooden stakes and boulders. Attractors for the Oak Ridge Reservation were made from PVC pipe partially filled with concrete and bound with wire, cable ties and waterproof glue.

ORNL Aquatics Laboratory researchers, with assistance from the scouts and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, deployed the units at Hinds Creek. ORNL researchers installed fish attractors at East Fork Poplar Creek, Poplar and White Oak creeks.

For the ORNL scientists, the project was a success on a number of levels.

"It was an honor for us to support such a project, which allowed this very deserving young man to become only the second scout known to earn this prestigious award in the Great Smoky Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America," Giffen said.

Said Roy: "The attractors are definitely being utilized. The wooden stake bed attractors in particular seem to be providing critical refuge for juvenile sunfish and minnows such as the striped shiner. The PVC attractors seemed to be getting used by the medium to large sunfish and rock bass, and we're finding all size classes in the cedar attractors."

The Hornaday Award is named after the late William Hornaday, director of the New York Zoological Park and founder of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Hornaday was a champion of natural resource conservation and a leader in saving the American bison from extinction. He named the award the Wildlife Protection Medal. Its purpose was to challenge Americans to work for wildlife conservation and habitat protection. After his death in 1937, the award was renamed in Hornaday's honor and became a Boy Scouts of America award.

UT-Battelle has a tradition of supporting the Boy Scouts of America. Last year, the managing contractor for the Department of Energy's ORNL made a $150,000 award to the Great Smoky Mountain Council for its campaign to renovate Camp Buck Toms. The money was to be applied to the establishment of classrooms for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, activities at the camp, which is located near Rockwood. In recent years, UT-Battelle also made donations to the Oak Ridge chapter, the Friends of Scouting Campaign and other Boy Scouts projects to address the issues of hunger, poor health and homelessness.

 -  Ron Walli,  865.574.0595,  May 10, 2013
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