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Joe Poelker

Release Date: 9/16/2013

Boy Scout boosts birdwatching with new feeders for deGreeff Hospice House

Ruth Southards and soon-to-be Eagle Scout Zach Miller with new bird feeder at Hospice House.

Ruth Southards and soon-to-be Eagle Scout Zach Miller with new bird feeder at Hospice House.

Birdwatching is one of the simple pleasures enjoyed by the patients, their families and visitors at the Fern and Russell F. de Greeff Hospice House.

To attract feathered friends, some 18 bird feeders are nestled around the home. Recently, though, the feeders became old and weathered, and were falling apart. And that’s when Zach Miller came in with his Eagle Scout project to save the day.

Zach, 17, is a senior at Windsor High School and a member of Boy Scout Troop 450 based at the Knights of Columbus in Arnold. He’s also the son of Stephanie Crouch, R.N., a nurse at St. Anthony’s for 14 years who works in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. Stephanie knew Zach was searching for a good Eagle Scout project.

“I suggested he contact Ruth (Southards, R.N., B.S.N.,  Patient Care Coordinator for Hospice),” Crouch recalled. “We send patients to the hospice house all the time, and know what a great facility it is.”

Zach visited de Greeff and took a tour. Along the way, he was called over by a patient, who noted the aging bird feeders needed to be replaced.

“The patient said it meant a lot to everyone to watch the birds: it brought much joy into their lives,” Zach recalled.

Zach cut the wood for the houses at his grandparents’ home, and assembled and sealed them at home in Imperial, spending 250 hours on the project. He spent another four hours setting up the houses at deGreeff on Aug. 31.  

“Zach did a great job,” Southards said. “He even went a step further and made a donation for bird seed. He also persuaded the Missouri Conservation Commission to donate books for the patients.”

Zach’s sister, Amelia Crouch, has taken over from there. Amelia, 11, is a member of Windsor’s Girl Scout Troop 1705, which is recycling the feeders and unused sealer into signs that will be displayed at a local camp, urging others to recycle. The troop, led by Stephanie Crouch, also is heading up a birdseed drive as part of the effort for its bronze award.

“It takes several dollars to keep all the bird feeders filled, and we were running low on donors,” Southards said. “I am really excited about this.”

The new feeders should be enjoyed by birds and watchers alike for many years to come.

“My grandpa is predicting between 10 and 15 years,” Zach said.

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