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Ostrem to receive Eagle Scout award Sunday

Submitted Photo Members and parents in Boy Scout Troop 134 of Worthington pose with one of the 10 wood duck houses constructed for the Round Lake Sportsman's Club.

WORTHINGTON -- When Justis Ostrem went to live with his grandparents in the first grade, Verlin and Brenda Ostrem signed him up for three things -- Sunday school, the Cub Scouts and swimming lessons at the YMCA.

The now 16-year-old stuck with all three, and on Sunday will earn his Eagle Scout award.

Ostrem, who has never missed a pack or scout meeting in his 11 years in the organization and has a "mountain of awards" to show for his efforts, had set his sights on the Eagle at an early age. His father, Jason, along with a cousin, are past recipients of the Eagle Scout award -- the highest in the scouting organization.

"After I made star rank in the Boy Scouts, that's when I really wanted the Eagle Scout," said Ostrem.

His project included coordinating volunteers, seeking donations and helping to construct 10 wood duck houses for the Round Lake Sportsman's Club. The houses were erected in wildlife areas along Round Lake in western Jackson County last spring.

"I used to live in Round Lake when I was younger, and I wanted to see if there was something I could do for my old hometown," Ostrem said. His grandparents have a campsite at East Side Acres, where at least one of the birdhouses is stationed.

The sportsman's club provided a pattern for the wood duck houses, and Ostrem altered it slightly to fit the group's needs. He then enlisted the help of his grandpa, Verlin, to help line up supplies.

Trying to buy rough cedar lumber locally in March proved to be the biggest obstacle, said Verlin.

"It was the wrong time of the year and no one had it in stock," he said. At the suggestion of son-in-law Ron Fuerstenberg, a scout leader in Harrisburg, S.D., they found the wood at a Sioux Falls, S.D., lumber yard and received a discount and donation.

The sportsman's club also donated toward the cost of the lumber and the steel posts were donated by Henry Pfeil of Worthington. In the end, Ostrem was left to fund less than $100, which covered the wood screws, cedar mulch and a portion of the lumber.

Construction of the wood duck houses was done by the Ostrems, along with Justis' uncle and cousins Josh and Jordan Fuerstenberg of Harrisburg.

The houses were erected on a Boy Scout meeting night in mid-April, with Ostrem getting help from Troop 134 scouts and parents -- there were 26 in all.

"We put them up in East Side Acres and back toward Southern Comfort, toward the wildlife area," said Brenda Ostrem.

Each year, the sportsman's club replaces a number of its wood duck houses that have become dilapidated. It will take over the maintenance of the new birdhouses, which are expected to have a longer lifespan because of the cedar lumber that was used.

Ostrem, with assistance, spent a total of 109 hours on the Eagle Scout project. Among the requirements for the award are to show leadership and work with people in the community.

Ostrem will receive his Eagle Scout in a special ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Worthington. The public is invited to attend.

Though Ostrem is excited to earn the Eagle, he is just as excited about all of the things he has been able to do and accomplish in the scouting organization. Each year he participates in summer Scout camps, hiking and camping in places like the Big Horn Mountains and the Black Hills, and visiting the Merit Badge University in Grand Island, Neb.

In his scouting career, Ostrem has earned 58 merit badges, including four historical badges that were only available during the 100th year of scouting. Ostrem was the only member of Troop 134 to earn four of the historical badges, garnering them in carpentry, path finding, signaling and tracking.

Today, Ostrem is looking forward to his next step in the organization -- possibly serving as camp staff next summer and doing whatever he can to help younger members in the organization earn their merit badges.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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