Eagle Scout candidates from the Cary/Apex area set up shelters they made for homeless cats on Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Rita Thiel

Craftsmanship, dedication, and leadership were in evidence as three Eagle Scout candidates from Cary delivered their final projects to Ocracoke–handmade feeding stations for the island Ocracats.

“My guess is that these are gonna be their favorite spots,” said Melinda Sutton, an Ocracat volunteer, as she stuffed straw into one of the new cat shelters on Jan. 19.  Soon after, one of the dozens of cats she feeds behind her Tradewinds Tackle business wasted no time in jumping into the shelter.

The young men, Patrick, Andrew and Collin, their fathers and scout leader left the Raleigh area around 5 a.m.hauling a trailer with the five hand-made wooden shelters, and caught the 10 a.m. Swan Quarter ferry. Boy Scouts USA rules prohibit the Observer from listing their last names.

The three, who have passed their Life Scout rank and are nearing the end of their Eagle Scout quest, decided to help the community cats of Ocracoke after reading about the devastation from Hurricane Dorian Sept. 6.  

  “After I read the Facebook posts about what had happened and the need for cat shelters, I thought this would be a great project for the boys,” said Tommy Grubbs, the boys’ Scouts BSA Troop 200 leader. “I approached them with the idea and they jumped on board.” 

Patrick has visited the island, vacationing at Edwards of Ocracoke with his family several times.

“I love Ocracoke and I love coming out here and I thought I’d get more out of it doing what I really wanted to support,” he said about the project. 

The scouts used the shelter design plan that is on the Ocracats website. The shelters, built with one sheet of plywood and one 2 X 4, are multi-level with two compartments on each level, a hinged door, and some even had extra insulation.

Unloading the shelters at one of the feeding stations. Photo: C. Leinbach

After they made the first shelter, they saw that the plans called for the roofs to be flush with the walls.

“It would have been flush, but we thought it would be better with an overhang,” said Collin. So they added a piece of plywood to that first one and then adjusted the plans for the subsequent shelters.

Each boy made his own shelter(s) and tweaked the design with individual touches. The boys did all the planning and construction, with only a small bit of assistance.

“The boys showed excellent leadership skills throughout the completion of these projects,” said Grubbs.

 “I really like that we could do something that was needed,” said Patrick. 

No sooner is a new shelter set up behind Tradewinds Tackle than an Ocracat checks it out. Photo: C. Leinbach
The inside of new shelters for Ocracoke Island Ocracats. Photo: C. Leinbach
Melinda Sutton with the three Eagle Scout candidates who built five shelters for Ocracats. Photo by Rick Schertz


Previous articleCold-stunned sea turtles rescued on Ocracoke
Next articleOccupancy Tax Board seeks grant requests for 2020-2021


  1. What a great project for these future Eagle Schots to come here all the way from Cary. Perhaps this uplifting story will inspire other Eagle Scout candidates to do the same. When I earned my Eagle Scout award in 1964 in Wake County, we did not have projects. Ocracoke once had the famous Mounted Boy Scout Troop 290 here for 10 years beginning in 1954. That troop disbanded in 1959 after the NPS took over care for the ponies. Perhaps it’s time for Ocracoke to consider resurrecting Troop 290. Richard Taylor.

  2. I am so proud of these scouts for doing this project. Animals are dear to my heart and this proves the scouts do also. Thank you so much for doing this. Hope one day to go see them.

Comments are closed.