Moorestown High School sophomore Alan Urdabayev and some Boy Scout troops have built two wooden bridges at the township’s Esther Yanai Preserve.
The work earlier this year was part of Urdabayev’s Eagle Scout project. He has been involved with Scouting since third grade and appreciates the life skills it teaches.
“The motto is, ‘be prepared,’ and it basically means be prepared for life, be prepared for what’s coming as an adult,” the youth explained. “And Scouting just really builds leadership, builds confidence, builds life skills that teach you how to survive in this world.”
Urdabayev’s project was a main requirement for his Eagle Scout rank, and according to his proposal and plan, the purpose of the work is to help preserve, protect and enhance the natural environment of Moorestown and make it safer for the preserve’s trail users.
Urdabayev connected with Mark Pensiero, president of Save the Environment of Moorestown (STEM), and Richard Corbin, of the Department of Parks and Recreation, and they helped him identify two locations in the preserve for the bridges. The project was completed in three months, and Urdabayev expects to attain his Scout by the end of the year.
Urdabayev is also proud that he could help his community.
“ … I would say a year ago … I was actively going there (the preserve) and measuring the water level and taking pictures of animals, trees, insects, all for this project,” he recalled. “I was also seeing bird watchers, hikers, and even data researchers. I was just wanting to make it a better and safer experience for them … Whatever would be helpful for them.”
Alan’s dad, Nurtay, described observing how his son grew through the building process, learning that any project of such magnitude requires communication, management and other skills. He echoed Alan’s sentiment that coordination was the most challenging aspect of the project.
“One example that comes to mind is when he was doing a tabletop exercise,” Nurtay recalled. “ … All of a sudden, he discovered that, ‘Oh, I’m short for the end caps.’ And I was like, ‘Wow, that’s so good that he discovered it now, because if we went there with all the things that we had, all the materials, without those two pieces, the end cap pieces, we can’t complete the project.’”
“ … I really saw him grow through this experience and understand that any project of such magnitude requires a lot of coordination,” Nurtay continued. “There’s a lot of communication that goes into it … You have to try to motivate Scouts to come – because not everyone is motivated – and then manage them and inspire them, because that’s how you interact with the younger Scouts.”
When Alan Urdabayev thinks of his project, a word that comes to mind is “planning.”
“I would say that planning is the biggest thing of doing an Eagle Scout project,” he observed. “To make sure it’s approved by everyone, to make sure the date is scheduled correctly, to make sure everything is running smoothly, and to make sure it’s actually a good project.”