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NEWS | Jan. 23, 2018

JBLE partners with Boy Scouts for public lands grant

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 733rd Civil Engineer Division Environmental Element partnered with the Fort Eustis Boy Scouts of America Troop 45 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Jan. 20, 2018, for natural resource projects funded by a National Public Lands Day grant.

National Public Lands Day, recognized annually in September, is the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the U.S.  The National Environmental Education Foundation issues these grants in recognition of this day to not only encourage volunteering for environmental projects, but to promote using national and state parks, and other public lands, for educational and recreational purposes as well.

Although JBLE was awarded the roughly $5.7K grant several months ago for two historical cemeteries from the 1930s, and to build educational posts along the installation’s nature trail.  Inclement weather delayed the project implementation until recently

“We have a large, diverse assortment of historical places on the installation,” said Dr. Christopher McDaid, 733rd CED Environmental Element archaeologist. “Receiving this grant was an opportunity to get some support to protect and preserve these sites, but also inform the public about this extended history on Fort Eustis.”

The signs along the nature trail will be updated seasonally, providing information on trees, plants and animal habitats along the route. The signs will also include historical information about the installation dating back several thousand years.

“Putting up signs allows us to talk about a wide variety of natural and cultural topics,” said Donna Haynes, 733rd CED Environmental Element environmental protection specialist. “Our hope is to encourage people to continue to come out and enjoy the trails and learn something new.”

Scouts of Troop 45 volunteered to spread mulch, outlined the cemetery markers and dug the sign post holes along the nature trail, located behind Jacobs Conference Center on Monroe Avenue.

“These projects allow the boys to do something bigger than themselves and give back to the community,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Nicholas Burney, 1st Battalion, 210th Aviation Regiment, 128th Aviation Brigade NCO and Fort Eustis scoutmaster of Troop 45. “Today the boys earned the Boy Scouts Historical Markers patch because we have camped often on trails here and now we’ve helped with the placing of educational signs along the historical trails.”

The Environmental Element also has plans to partner together to help Troop 45 earn the William T. Hornaday Award, a prestigious Boy Scouts of America award presented for significant contributions to conservation. Only 1,100 medals have been presented across the organization in the past 80 years.

“They’ve done multiple projects with us over the years and we love working with them,” said Haynes. “The troop has decided that this is an award they would like to pursue and we’re looking forward to partnering on projects here on the installation over the next few months to get them this award.”

For more information about National Public Lands Day or the National Environmental Education Foundation, visit