When New Hyde Park Memorial High School senior Joseph D’Amico was considering his last step toward earning the rank of Eagle Scout, he decided to do something to benefit birds.
The project he started planning a year ago focused on creating a sustainable environment in a 200-foot section at the west basin of the Garden City Bird Sanctuary on Tanners Pond Road.
“A lot of invasive species of plants were choking out anything there to support the wildlife. So I went in, cleared out the invasive stuff and planted things to bring the wildlife in that area,” D’Amico said.
For his efforts, D’Amico will receive his new rank of Eagle Scout at a court of honor on Friday night at Clinton G. Martin Park.
The seed for the project was planted two years ago when D’Amico assisted two other scouts from New Hyde Park Troop 544 on another project at the bird sanctuary. His objective was to make the west basin in the sanctuary habitable for wildlife.
D’Amico started by doing research on just what sort of plants would be best suited for the area.
Rob Alvey, bird sanctuary director, gave him books about Long Island to enable D’Amico to select trees and grasses that thrive in the region.
Clearing the area and doing the planting took two days in mid-October with the assistance of members of his scout troop and his family. In preparation for the work, D’Amico, his fellow scouts and his parents raised $500 from a bake sale at Stop N’ Shop to purchase the necessary foliage and equipment for the project.
“It felt really good,” he said about doing the work. “That was the last thing before getting my rank.”
D’Amico donated some money left over to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in New Hyde Park and the Audubon Society in New York City.
A senior patrol leader in his troop, he intends to continue his participation in scouting.
But the work at the bird sanctuary isn’t the only volunteer service he’s been involved in.
D’Amico’s been a junior member of the Garden City Park Fire Department for more than two years, and earned his cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification six months ago.
“That was awesome,” he said. “Along with the Boys Scouts, they teach me a lot of practical things.”
He said he’s looking forward to becoming eligible to be a full-fledged volunteer firefighter when he turns 18 in October.
“I’m taking it seriously. I‘m looking forward to going to the next level,” D’Amico said.
He’s also been doing volunteer work in the pediatric clinic in Flushing Hospital since June.
“It’s a different aspect of community service when you’re going and physically helping people in the community,” D’Amico said.
As a result of his various volunteer efforts, D’Amico earned a scholarship for community service to Molloy College, where he plans to major in business with a minor in sustainability when he starts classes there in the fall.