Supporting wildlife with his Eagle Scout project

On a mission to save an endangered species, Diamond Bar High School sophomore Tenchi Kennedy constructed an animal enclosure for baby tortoises to reside in, giving back to the community as a Boy Scout.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) program shapes their members to be upstanding citizens and contribute to the community. Scouts can only reach the highest rank of the BSA—the Eagle Scout—by earning at least 21 Scout medals and committing to a self-organized volunteer activity, the Eagle Project.

Kennedy recently completed his Eagle Scout project under the instruction of the Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Phelan, California, opting to accept the sanctuary’s request for an animal enclosure. 

Eagle Scout Tenchi Kennedy built an animal enclosure to house baby tortoises

“[Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary] is a place that I enjoy and think quite highly of. I wanted to know what they might need for any incoming or already established animals,” Kennedy said.

An outgoing member of High Adventure Troop 93, Kennedy is trained in skills such as knife-handling and woodworking, putting these abilities to good use in his project. He attributes what he’s learned from Boy Scouts to his success with constructing the enclosure.

“You get what you want out of scouting,” Kennedy said. “If you want to be there to socialize and have friends, that’s what you get. If you want life skills, you will get those. It’s all down to how much effort you put into your scouting career.”

Kennedy says he considered the topic of his project for one year, but it wasn’t until one month ago that he had set everything into place. He asked the sanctuary about what they needed most urgently for their variety of endangered animals ranging from tigers to owls, then settled on baby tortoises. After the little ones had grown out of Kennedy’s enclosure, the sanctuary’s employees would move them out into Forever Wild’s larger shelter where the adult tortoises lived.

In preparation for his project, Kennedy started a fundraising campaign at Mr. G’s Pizza and Fusion 2Any1, his whole budget composed entirely from the money earned from these events as per the BSA’s requirements. With money from the fundraisers, Kennedy bought hinges, lumber, paint and other materials from Home Depot.

Over the course of the past few weeks, Kennedy had sophomores Ernest Tyler, Ethan Pavasars, Alex Petrie and others from different cities come to his house to assemble the enclosure. As a side bonus and thank you, his helpers were given volunteer hours for their contributions to the community.

Kennedy installed the completed animal enclosure at the sanctuary on August 27. The finished enclosure is a simple wooden box with an open bottom, lying on the ground to create a more natural surface. At the sanctuary, the floor under the enclosure is rough and sandy, emulating the tortoises’ original habitat. The top is chicken wired to keep the tortoises from accidentally escaping, and the lid can be easily opened and locked to care for the critters. 

Signed by Kennedy himself, the side of the enclosure is painted with a colorful desert landscape design. He is expected to receive his Eagle Award and Rank later this year for his endeavors.

“Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout. That’s an honor.”