Slater Park gets new ‘Airbnb-ee’

Slater Park gets new ‘Airbnb-ee’

Abby Schwab, of Pawtucket, with one of the pollinator boxes she made for Slater Park as part of her Eagle Scout project. 
Eagle Scout Schwab creates pollinator boxes for endangered bees

PAWTUCKET – In an effort to help endangered bee populations, 18-year-old Abby Schwab built and installed three “bee hotels” at Slater Park this winter, working with the Pawtucket Parks and Recreation Department.

A member of Troop 1846 Attleboro, Schwab, of Pawtucket, completed the project and achieved the status of Eagle Scout, making history as a member of the Narragansett Council, Boy Scouts of America’s first female Eagle Scout class. She’s among only a handful of young women across the U.S. to make up the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts, according to a release. Becoming an Eagle Scout, Schwab told The Breeze, “is special to me because scouting has been in my family for a long time.” She added that she’s proud to make history and pave the way for other young girls.

Tim McCandless, CEO of Narragansett Council, Boy Scouts of America, said he’s honored to recognize Schwab for earning the rank of Eagle Scout. “Along the journey to Eagle Scout, young people gain new skills, learn to overcome obstacles, build leadership skills, commit to a code of ethics, and serve their community,” he said. “These benefits are invaluable for everyone, and we are thrilled that they are now available to females.”

An advocate for the environment, Schwab said for her project she chose to make pollinator boxes, which provide endangered species of bees with a permanent home to nest and repopulate.

“I hope it preserves our local bee population,” she said. “A lot of bee species are endangered, but they’re very important to our environment. It would be great to see them repopulate through this.”

Along with members of her troop, she designed and built three 1-foot-by-1-foot boxes and filled them with untreated, unpressurized wood. The boxes were placed on metal poles and installed around the park.

Schwab said she lives near Slater Park, which is why she chose it as her location. When in the planning stages of the project, she said she reached out to Parks and Recreation staff, who offered suggestions and assisted with installing them. The process of building them and putting them up took two days in December, she said, and the boxes will remain up for as long as they last.

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John Blais, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, told The Breeze that one pollinator box is located at Friendship Garden in the park and the other two are within Daggett Farm by the greenhouse/garden area that’s maintained by URI master gardeners. Schwab also created an educational board to explain what the boxes are for any curious members of the public.

Last July, Blais said, Schwab approached him with the idea, and as an Eagle Scout himself, he supported the project. “It’s a great thing,” he said, adding that he’s thrilled when local youth want to come to the park and do something to benefit the community.

Blais said he reached out to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and that members of the R.I. Beekeepers Association will visit the park and keep track of data to see how well the project worked.

Parks and Recreation staff are very proud of Schwab for earning Eagle Scout status, Blais said, adding that it’s “wonderful we could be a part of that.”

Schwab, a freshman at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, said her favorite part of the project was working with other people. “It felt like a community effort,” she said.

Troop 1846 Attleboro in Attleboro, Mass., is in the process of recruiting new female members for 2021. For any girls curious about joining Scouts BSA, Schwab said she encourages them to sit in on a troop meeting and give it a shot. Scouting is a lot of hard work, she said, but it’s worth it.

For her Eagle Scout project, Abby Schwab, of Pawtucket, designed and built pollinator boxes that were installed at Slater Park to provide endangered species of bees with a permanent home to nest and repopulate.