Environmental Stewardship: Eagle Scout and Senior Center Add New Birdhouses to Park District Site

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

On a peaceful, picturesque property off Dupont Avenue stand beautifully crafted works of art that are as breathtaking to look at as they are for the birds that flock there to call home.

Built by members of the Rolling Meadows Park District Senior Center Woodshop, a total of 43 birdhouses were recently installed as part of 17-year-old Isabel Pollpeter's Eagle Scout project. Pollpeter worked with fellow scouts of Troop 209G, her family and Park District staff to install the birdhouses—replicas of the ones that graced the property when it was owned by the late Joann and Paul Icenogle. Avid master gardeners, Joann and Paul meticulously tended to the 3-acre property through the years, creating a welcome haven for a variety of bird species. Paul Icenogle died in 2009 and Joann died in 2020, gifting the property to Rolling Meadows Park District. The Park District officially acquired the land in March 2022.

Incorporating much of the architecture of the original birdhouses, several of the new structures feature the tiniest of detail, including intricately designed Davinci-style rotundas, steeples and pitched rooftops. Longtime Senior Center Woodshop member Terry O'Connor, who helped spearhead the project, calls the new structures “custom nesting homes.” City of Rolling Meadows volunteer Sue Walton also helped make the project a reality.

“It's a lot of work, but it will pay off in the end,” Pollpeter said as she and her friends dug holes and raised the tall gas pipes on which the birdhouses stand. “I'm excited to see the birds go in these houses. I didn't think it would happen this quickly, but my volunteers are working really fast.”

Although not yet open to the public, Rolling Meadows Park District leaders hope to eventually use the Icenogle site to provide opportunities for individual growth and community connections through education, nature-based play and environmental stewardship, said Executive Director Kevin Romejko. The Park District recently commissioned WT Group in Hoffman Estates to perform a survey of the property—such a survey would be necessary for any future grant funding that might be available.

“The Icenogles poured their hearts and souls into that property throughout their lives and for Mrs. Icenogle to hand the baton to us speaks volumes about her trust in Rolling Meadows Park District,” said Superintendent of Parks Brian McKenna. “Anytime an organization like ours can acquire and preserve green space, it's going to have a positive impact on the community and future generations. We hold this property in high regard.”

McKenna said he was impressed by Pollpeter's initiative and commitment to installing the birdhouses. Pollpeter is the first female scout to work with the District to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. She will be a senior at William Fremd High School in Palatine this fall.

“She could have chosen a lot of different projects with a lot of different organizations, but she is passionate about giving back to the environment and to the community,” McKenna said. “She felt like this project fit with her mission and what she wanted to accomplish to become an Eagle Scout. There was a lot of background work on her part—she had to organize the houses and where they were going to go. It was a really good fit for her and for us.”

Pollpeter's parents are also glad she chose to work with Rolling Meadows Park District for her Eagle Scout project. Her twin sister, Abby, is also involved in Scouts.

“I'm really proud of her,” said Wanida Pollpeter, Isabel's mom. “I know it's really hard work.”