|By Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff
Volunteers with the Fort McCoy Woodshop helped two organizations build
bluebird/wood duck nesting boxes and Pinewood Derby racing cars.
Woodshop volunteer James Laatsch of the Directorate of Emergency
Services (DES) worked in coordination with Nathan Tucker, Colorado State
University contractor with the Fort McCoy Natural Resources Branch
(NRB), and Woodshop Manager Mike Napsey to assist making wood duck
nesting boxes and more than 20 bluebird nesting boxes to support NRB
wildlife habitat projects.
Volunteers help put together
bluebird nesting boxes at the Woodshop. The project supported
the Fort McCoy Natural Resources Branch program.
David Beckmann, Fort McCoy wildlife biologist, said NRB provided nest
box designs to Laatsch and the newly constructed wood duck nesting boxes
replaced those that were in disrepair.
Both wood duck and bluebird species are native to Fort McCoy and
typically nest in tree cavities.
With the removal of most dead or dying trees because of safety hazards,
the nest boxes provide alternative nesting sites for these species to
help maintain the biological diversity of the installation, he said.
If the projects hadn’t been done, the nesting boxes probably wouldn’t
have been replaced, he said. Laatsch said the bluebird nesting boxes
were sent to the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin (BRAW) to
support the bluebird populations at Fort McCoy. BRAW has been monitoring
the bluebird nest boxes on the installation using local volunteers.
Also supporting the project were the Kathryn Kirkpatrick and Julie
“We enjoyed doing the project and are really excited about the results
of helping the wood ducks and bluebirds thrive,” Laatsch said.
“The Woodshop, which is part of the Directorate of Family and Morale,
Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR) at Fort McCoy, supported the Natural
Resources Branch as a fellow directorate at Fort McCoy to help ensure
the success of the projects,” Napsey said.
Napsey said Woodshop volunteers also assisted with a Pinewood Derby Car
Shaping Day for Cub Scout Pack 279 of Tomah.
Cub Scouts from Pack 279 work on
sanding their Pinewood Derby cars during a session at the Fort
McCoy Woodshop. (Contributed
Jeff Duebler, who works with DFMWR Lodging at Fort McCoy and is a
Webelos leader, worked with Napsey to host the car-shaping day. Napsey
said several of the youth in the pack are military Family members, which
makes them eligible to use the facility.
“When the youth brought their cars to the annual race (last year) it was
obvious they didn’t have access to the proper equipment to make decent
cars,” Duebler said. “I wanted to give them the chance to make the cars
correctly so they could compete.”
About 10 youths from the pack, whose members range in age from first
grade to fifth grade, showed up to make the cars. Duebler said parents
are allowed to assist the youth with things they can’t do, such as
operate the equipment to shape the cars. Each car is made out of a
seven-inch block of wood, four nails that serve as axles, and BSA
Napsey said the DFMWR Woodshop was happy to assist the pack and host the
“It helps strengthen the bonds between Fort McCoy and the surrounding
communities and helps promote the Army Community Covenant program,” he
said. “It also helps support the bonds within a Family and helps support
the Army Family Covenant program.”
Duebler said it was a good Family event for the Cub Scouts because most
of the pack members do not have access to the equipment or tools
necessary to shape their cars.
Frank Paronish, DFMWR Woodshop volunteer, conducted a safety class and
oriented the youth in the use of the equipment, Duebler said.
The Scouts first planned out the shape of their cars taking into account
style, aerodynamics for speed, weight limitations, etc., before the cars
were cut by the youth into the rough shapes, Duebler said.
Next, the youth took their roughly cut cars, and fine-tuned the design
shapes with sand paper. Youth finished the remainder of the necessary
tasks at home — finishing the design, weight tune-ups and painting — to
prepare the cars for the upcoming races.
Duebler and several other adults from the pack also used the Woodshop
facility and equipment to help construct a new 32-foot track to hold the
races. The old track had warped and was becoming difficult to use.
“The event worked out really well, and we plan to do it at Fort McCoy
again next year,” Duebler said. “We really appreciated their support.”
For more information about the Woodshop, call 608-388-6598 or
(See related story.)