Last week, local youths and seniors teamed up to build bluebird nesting boxes to be placed on the Fairchild Hill nature trail, in an attempt to bring more bluebirds to Cazenovia. The project — a coordination between Community Resources for Independent Seniors (CRIS), the Cazenovia Joint Youth Recreation Program and the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation — will not only help attract more wildlife to Cazenovia, but the activity offered an opportunity for some inter-generational teamwork.
“We are trying to find a way to teach older children how to [put away their] electronics, use tools, be constructive instead of destructive, take pride in their work, work with their hands and improve their communication skills,” said Elizabeth Digiacomo, Joint Youth Recreation Program director.
The Cazenovia Joint Youth Recreation Program is a weekday summer program in Lakeland Park that has an enrollment of more than 190 campers, ages 5 to 15, with around 115 that attend per day. Campers not only enjoy sports, swimming and other recreational activities, but also work with local partner organizations to learn how they can give back to the community, learn basic lifetime skills and build relationships through mentoring from all ages, Digiacomo said.
For the bluebird house project, Digiacomo reached out to CRIS to find a project that would interest older campers and that would be resourceful for the community as a whole. CRIS, which helps to provide at-home services to help senior residents stay in their homes for as long as possible, was happy to be involved because it brings a better sense of community to both the seniors and the campers, said Liz Poda, CRIS executive director.
“It’s neat because this has to deal with nature and kids. [Helping with] the needs in the community to preserve the bluebird population in the state is great for the interaction between seniors and kids,” Poda said.
The campers were seated at a long wooden picnic table where they were given a nesting box kit with screw drivers, drills, nails and hemlock wood that was already shaped and designed for the nesting boxes by CRIS board member Peter Barth and CRIS volunteer Kurt Paddock.
Hemlock was the best type of wood to use because it is durable and will provide a safe space for the bluebirds, and was more financially accessible, said Steve Burrell, the donator of the activity’s supplies and a driver for CRIS Cabs.
“With hemlock, there’s no need for it to be painted, it lasts for many years and it’s cheaper than cedar, another nesting box wood,” Burrell said. “This project gives kids hands-on experience with carpentry and will hopefully attract bluebirds, the state bird, to the community.”
In September, the same youth who assembled the nesting boxes this summer will be invited by the CPF to install the boxes on the Fairchild Hill hiking trail as part of a dedication ceremony on Sept. 20, Poda said.
Bluebird nesting boxes are “critical” for the species, and creating a “bluebird trail” on Fairchild Hill will be a benefit not only to the bluebirds but also to the Cazenovia community, said CPF Director Judy Gianforte.
“This is an exciting project, it’s a great collaboration between three organizations that don’t usually interact with one another,” Gianforte said.
Once the nesting boxes are erected in September, the campers will be able to walk the trails and find the bluebird nesting box they built by reading the initials on the bottom of the house that were stamped in with a hammer.
Ashley Wolf is an intern with the Cazenovia Republican. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.