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Shelby Township

July 22, 2013

Shelby scout goes for the gold at nature center

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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Shelby Township resident Allison Kulka, 18, visits the Burgess Shadbush Nature Center July 18, where her water well was set up near the log cabin. She won the Girl Scout Gold Award for the project, which took more than 80 hours to finish.

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Shelby Township resident Allison Kulka, 18, of Ambassador Scout Troop 30714, is well-versed in how water wells operate.

The Eisenhower High School graduate spent more than 80 hours on her community service project to create an old-fashioned water well for the log cabin at the Burgess Shadbush Nature Center. Kulka received the Gold Award for her efforts, the highest honor in Girl Scouts.

“I like being outdoors and building stuff,” Kulka said. “I was looking for places to let me do that.”

She said she was surprised at how big it had to be — 8 feet tall. It now stands near the log cabin, placed over a spigot and hose.

Kulka, who plans to attend Oakland University this fall, also created an educational packet about the Civil War and Michigan’s role in it, which will be used at the nature center.

“This is an example of projects that improve the quality-of-life initiatives,” said Shelby Township Deputy Supervisor Brad Bates. “Shelby Township is grateful for such an amazing scouting community.” 

“We have a lot of scouts asking us for project ideas,” said Dan Farmer, Burgess Shadbush Nature Center naturalist. He explained that Kulka designed, funded, assembled and delivered the well.

“It fits in well with the theme of the cabin and creates additional elements in a harmonious setting,” said Kerry Crosier, Shelby Township Parks and Recreation coordinator.

The more-than 800-acre park that is home to the township’s nature center has a rich history dating back to the 19th century, when Peter and Sarah Lerich owned the land and it was called the Spring Hill Farm. They helped slaves escape the South as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The Lerich family had a second farmhouse built and a huge red cedar tree, dubbed the Beacon Tree, planted to help guide slaves to the site.

Through the years, the site changed hands several times. Heavyweight champ Joe Louis set up a home and training grounds on the land. The site was later owned by the government, which turned it into one of 16 sites in metro Detroit to become a missile defense site, in case of an attack by the Russians. The missiles were housed in a silo where the Burgess Shadbush Nature Center now stands.

“We use the cabin to teach history,” Crosier said. “The park has considerable history.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.