Owl-box project helps nail down Eagle ranking for Rancho Santa Fe Scout


Rancho Santa Fe has a new Eagle Scout in William Burnett. Eagle Scout is the highest ranking in the Boy Scouts of America, which is quite an accomplishment. It includes earning more than 30 merit badges, demonstrating leadership, citizenship and service and completing an Eagle Scout Project, a service project to benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.

William is a longtime resident of Rancho Santa Fe and attended R. Roger Rowe school all nine years. He is a junior at La Costa Canyon High School. “I really enjoyed Scouting and I had a lot of fun with the Scouts in my troop over the years going hiking and camping together,” he said. “We had a lot of fun adventures.”

William is also a varsity rower for San Diego Rowing Club and spends three hours training for six days per week, but was able to find time to complete his Eagle Scout requirements.

His Eagle project directly benefited the Rancho Santa Fe community. “I wanted to choose a project that was close to home, and as it turns out, I could actually walk to my project location from my home.”

William built owl boxes for the San Elijo Lagoon and then installed them under the direction of the San Elijo Ecological Reserve ranger. “We chose two remote locations on the west side of the lagoon to install the new owl boxes.”

He explained that the new boxes will help support the barn owl population in the reserve, which will in turn keep the rodent population under control. “I chose this project because we installed an owl box on our property when I was a little kid, and I loved seeing the owls fly into the box and hunt on our property. When the reserve said they needed boxes, I knew this would be a great project.”

William was responsible for raising the money for the project and spent several Saturdays selling fruit from his orchard and lemonade by the roadside in Rancho Santa Fe. He then purchased the building materials, and along with his troop members, Will constructed the boxes.

“My grandpa drove down from Montana and served as the master carpenter and taught us how to build the boxes. I was really proud with the way they turned out.” Will added, “The thing that makes me the most proud is that when I last visited the owl boxes in the lagoon, each one had baby owls.”