Special to The Enterprise
It wasn’t about mending fences, but building one.
As his Eagle Scout project, 17-year-old Derek Tully of Davis planned, organized and built a state-of-the-art fence around the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre pollinator garden at UC Davis.
The public garden, adjacent to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus, now boasts a post-and-rail fence to “bee-hold.”
The 4-foot-high fence, meshed with wire that extends 6 inches underground, is “meticulous,” “fabulous” and “beautiful,” UCD entomologists, haven volunteers and the garden’s visitors agree.
Tully launched the project April 2, and with the help of fellow members of Scout Troop 111, adult volunteers, and his family and friends — including his father, Larry Tully, a retired machinist from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — completed it on Sept. 7. The 33-member crew often toiled in 100-degree heat as they calculated, measured, cut, assembled, hammered, nailed, capped and stained the fence.
Derek Tully negotiated with area businesses to obtain discounted prices. The total cost of materials: $6,300. The UCD department of entomology picked up the tab through a special account coordinated by entomology professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the haven’s faculty liaison.
“This project saved our department an estimated $24,000 to $30,000,” Kimsey said. The garden, publicly dedicated Sept. 11, 2010, was installed during her term as interim department chair. It is open from dawn to dusk at no charge.
Tully, a senior at Da Vinci High School, was honored at a ceremony Saturday at the bee haven.
“Derek did a fabulous job organizing the project and the volunteers,” Kimsey said. She and her husband, UCD forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, himself an Eagle Scout, supported the fence project from its inception. The Kimseys are longtime friends of the Tully family.
“The fence is meticulous, a professional job,” Lynn Kimsey said. “It’s beautiful.”
The sturdy fence, complete with three gates, is meant to define the space, beautify the garden, allow easy entrance to visitors, and restrict the movement of jackrabbits, ground squirrels and pocket gophers. The underground wiring is designed to inhibit burrowing animals that feast on the plants in the garden.
“Everyone likes the fence but the rodents,” Larry Tully quipped. He and his wife, Leslie Woodhouse, a research support scientist at the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center on the UCD campus, serve as assistant scoutmasters of Troop 111. The troop is led by scoutmaster Mark Shafer.
The Eagle Scout project took 488 hours. Among the volunteers laboring on the fence, in addition to the adult volunteers, were 18 registered members of the Boy Scouts of America; forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey; Derek’s brother, Shane, 21, also an Eagle Scout; and Derek’s girlfriend, violinist Emily Talbot, 17.
“I think it’s a good project,” Derek Tully humbly acknowledged. “I think it’s one of the most solid Eagle Scout projects I’ve seen.”
“We’re so grateful to Derek and his team for the contribution they have made to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven,” said Melissa Gable, program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture at UCD and involved in the garden since its inception. “The fence really gives the garden a sense of place and welcomes community members in to stroll the paths and enjoy the plants. Thanks to Derek, the outside of the garden now matches the beauty of the inside.”
In organizing the project and obtaining volunteers, Tully received assistance from greenhouse superintendent Garry Pearson of the UCD College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, who augured the holes for the fence posts.
Tully, who joined Tiger Cubs at age 5, worked his way up through the ranks to become a candidate for Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scout program. To be eligible for the honor, candidates are required to earn a minimum of 21 merit badges; demonstrate scout spirit, service and leadership; organize a community project not related to scouting; and provide a detailed report of the project.
Next step: Tully will appear before the Eagle Scout Board of Review. He is expected to receive his Eagle Scout rank in about a month.
In the meantime, Tully continues his studies at Da Vinci and competes on the Davis High water polo and swim teams, activities “way different” from working on the fence in triple-digit temperatures.
His brother Shane, a business major at Chico State University, earned his Eagle Scout rank in 2008. He built a 20-person observation deck at the Korematsu Elementary School garden in Mace Ranch.
Future plans? No, Derek Tully does not have his sights set on becoming a professional fence builder.
“I want to become a marine biologist,” he said.