Their faces were covered with masks but the eyes of three of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s O’Rourke Middle School 9th grade students twinkled with excitement as they watched a year-and-a-half’s worth of work come to fruition.
“It was a fun experience,” said Jack Stuhlman.
Stuhlman joined classmates Patrick Nyhan and PJ Pelletier as they watched the osprey and eagle nest platform they built with Tyler Duane and Ralston Frattarola get placed Saturday on Outlet Road in Ballston between the public dock and kayak launch by National Grid employees who volunteered their time.
The platform will give the birds a safe place to build a nest, Nyhan said.
It’s a project they started in 8th grade as part of a school-wide community service project and it’s also a venture close to Nyhan’s heart.
Nyhan said the project was inspired by his grandparents.
“When I was little we would go on birding trips,” he said.
Nyhan’s grandpa, Michael, died in 2019 as the group was working on the project.
On Saturday the group was presented with a plaque dedicated to the group’s effort and to Michael Nyhan.
“He knew about the project and was very proud of Patrick,” said Mary Alice Nyhan, his grandmother.
Nyhan said the group did some research before building the structure.
“Mainly the thing is it just has to be tall enough,” he said.
Pelletier said the platform was built using a wooden pallet the boys found on a road near the school and some materials, including the 37 to 40 foot pole, donated by Curtis Lumber.
The kids also did all the work to get the proper permits, said Patrick Stella, the spokesperson for National Grid.
National Grid used a large vacuum excavation truck to remove five feet of soft soil and water before placing the platform and backfilling the hole with stone.
The group had to get approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation because of where it was being placed and from the Ballston Lake Improvement Association, said Tara Mitchell, the communications director for the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District.
Technology teacher Nick Morocco said he provided the kids time to work on the project in class. He said in the 12 years he’s been teaching he has not seen a group of students take on such a project.
“I couldn’t sleep last night because I was thinking about how it was all going to play out and come to fruition,” he said.
Shannon Nyhan, Patrick’s mother, said she was proud of the group’s dedication to finishing the project.
“I love that they worked on it and really persisted on getting it done,” she said.
Nyhan said he can’t wait to see what kind of bird nests there. He also said he wants to attach a camera to the platform to watch the nesting process.