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Scouts Help Caterpillar Project Team put Recycled Wood to Good Use

A Boy Scout troop reuses wood from the Caterpillar site in Winston-Salem, N.C. to construct birdhouses for migratory songbirds.

Stacked Lumber

In Numbers

  • Winston-Salem, NC
  • 850,000 s.f.
    Square Footage
  • 16 months

By: Jonathan Ware

Project Manager, Caterpillar Winston-Salem Project


A barn at the Caterpillar site in Winston-Salem, N.C.

A barn at the Caterpillar site in Winston-Salem, N.C.



When the old barns on the Caterpillar site in Winston-Salem, N.C. were torn down to make way for a manufacturing facility, I was excited about the prospect of recycling the wood, but the material was in such poor shape that wood salvagers weren’t interested in reusing it. Still, I continued to pursue the idea of recycling the wood and contacted Boy Scout Troop 940 to gauge their interest in building some birdhouses for merit badge projects. The troop immediately accepted the project. Once the troop had the salvaged wood in hand, they were given minimal instructions: Use the wood to build a birdhouse for migratory songbirds. It was up to the scouts to research the various bird species, and design and build the birdhouses.


It took the troop about a month, but in the end they constructed four birdhouses. As an added bonus, when the scouts delivered the birdhouses, our team gave them a tour of the job trailer, and a seminar on architecture, design and construction which allowed them earn additional merit badges. In all, the Cub Scouts fulfilled the requirements for obtaining the bear and wolf ranks. The Boy Scouts fulfilled the requirements for two merit badges—fish and wildlife management, and architecture.


Beyond earning badges, these kids were given a life lesson in community involvement and the opportunity to learn more about a dynamic international company, all while gaining valuable building skills.


The birdhouses constructed by Boy Scout Troop 940.

The birdhouses constructed by Boy Scout Troop 940.



The four birdhouses will be placed along a three-quarter-mile nature trail on the Caterpillar site. The nature trails are surrounded by 30 acres of prairie grass that creates a good habitat for migratory songbirds. To accompany the birdhouses, bird blinds will be built using recycled wood from manufacturing equipment crates that will be installed in the facility. These crates aren’t your basic wooden crates—they are crafted and substantial due to the size of the equipment and will provide good material for the bird blinds.


With the success of the North Carolina project, our team plans to replicate this wood recycling effort in Kentucky and are currently talking to the local Boy Scouts of America Blue Grass Council about the possibility of using what we did in North Carolina as a model with an eye to eventually roll this out on a national level.


    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a contributing author and not necessarily Gray.

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