Eagle project to benefit Camas School District

CHS sophomore spent a year creating benthic bug display racks

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Shane Southerland presents an benthic bug display rack, created from Western Red Cedar, to Camas School District Superintendent Mike Nerland.

After a year of combing streams and rivers for aquatic bugs, Shane Southerland’s sometimes painstaking Eagle Scout project is complete.

Southerland, 16, presented racks of what are known as “benthic larvae macro-invertebrates,” to the Camas School Board last Monday.

Collecting the bugs was a long and challenging process, and the Camas High School sophomore rallied scouting volunteers and friends in Washington, Wyoming, Kansas, Georgia, Utah, Montana and Oregon to help him with the project.

“It took a lot of weekends to collect all of these,” he said. “But I really enjoyed going to the rivers, that was the most fun part of this project.”

Southerland presented Camas School District Superintendent Mike Nerland with the six-vial display racks.

“I am very impressed,” Nerland said.

Southerland, a member of Troop 496, told board members the main goal of the project was to help other students understand why benthic bugs are important.

“My purpose was to educate my fellow students on the importance of aquatic river bug life and what it means to our fish and water quality,” he said. “These bugs are important to the survival of salmon, steelhead and other aquatic life.”

In addition to collecting and preserving the bugs in glycerol, he also handmade vial display racks out of Western Red Cedar with mentor Shaun McKinney.

“The rack is 100 percent made and produced in America,” Southerland said.

He added that Lutz Hardware in Camas donated all the essentials to assemble the racks. Several other sponsors donated laminated keys and funding for the project. Glycerol, the substance used to preserve the bugs, is $90 a gallon.

“This has been a great experience for me,” Southerland said. “If you like to fly-fish and want to understand a little more about the health of these streams, I believe the benthic display racks will be valuable to our school district.”

Shane’s dad, Barry, accompanied his son to the School Board meeting to help present the project.

“I’ve judged many Eagle projects before, and I’ve never seen one like this,” he said. “It’s very unique and I’m very proud of him.”