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Standing Tall: 16-year-old makes Christmas tree stands that will travel to Washington, D.C., offices

Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer Boy Scout Billy Nelson’s Troop 52 project to become an Eagle Scout was to build 12 Christmas tree stands for the various trees that will be placed in different federal offices in Washington.

BEMIDJI -- The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is on its way to Washington, D.C. It will be joined by more than 10,000 ornaments from the area, as well as 70 Minnesota companion trees.

And 12 tree stands made by Billy Nelson, 16.

Nelson made the stands for his Boy Scouts of America Eagle project.

Nelson's troop leaders were approached by Mike Theune from the U.S. Forest Service, and an Eagle scout himself, who suggested the stands as an Eagle project.

"Then I just went along with it," said Nelson said, who has taken woodworking classes and enjoys building different things.

To achieve the Eagle Scout ranking, a Scout must remain active within the group, demonstrate the principles of the Boy Scouts in one's daily life, earn 21 merit badges, complete a service project to benefit the community, take part in a leader conference and complete an Eagle Scout board of review.

Once Nelson completes his Eagle project, he still has to complete one more merit badge, he said.

The Eagle projects itself includes several steps, such as project proposal, final plan, fundraising, and project report, which is completed after the project is finished.

Nelson explained that the hardest part of the project was preparing and completing all the paperwork. He was able to obtain his building through a Home Depot donation.

But Nelson wasn't alone for his project. He had help to build the stands from troop leaders, his own parents and both children and parents from his troop.

"The best part was building them, watching them go from a pile of two-by-fours into stands," he said.

Nelson selected a windmill pattern for the stands, which includes a square in the middle and legs coming out of each corner. He also included some decorations to show the home location of the stands.

"I signed my name on the bottom and I advertised my troop. I put "Troop 25" on one side and "Bemidji, MN" on the other side. There's going to be some recognition of where they came from," he said.

Nelson made two larger tree stands that will be placed with trees in the office of the Secretary of Agriculture and also the head of the U.S. Forest Service. The remaining smaller stands will be in the offices of the Minnesota senators and representatives. Nelson hopes to be able to see one of his stands in an office.

"I might write a letter to the senators because I wrote a to Senator Franken for Assistance in the Nation badge. I'm going to say 'I sent a letter to you for my other badge, so I was wondering if I could get a picture of you with the tree stand I built."

Maggi Stivers

Maggi Stivers is a Multi-Media Journalist at the Bemidji Pioneer. She covers art and entertainment in the Bemidji area. She is a 2013 Bemidji State graduate majoring in mass communications with a minor in sociology. Contact her at (218) 333-9790 or mstivers@bemidjipioneer.com.

(218) 333-9790
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