Eagle Scout earns wings with K-9 project

Kevin Cederstrom Building an obstacle course for a dog is not your typical project for a high school kid. And earning an Eagle Scout award is by no means typical either, but Ben Buchin of Perham will officially receive his Eagle Sc...

Kevin Cederstrom

Building an obstacle course for a dog is not your typical project for a high school kid. And earning an Eagle Scout award is by no means typical either, but Ben Buchin of Perham will officially receive his Eagle Scout status May 7. For his Eagle Scout project Buchin constructed a K-9 agility and obstacle course for the Otter Tail County Sheriffs K-9 unit.

Sgt. Scott Koennicke of New York Mills and Mike Guck helped Ben with carrying out the project from initial idea to the final design.

Koennickes partner, Zorro, is a 6-year-old German Shepherd who will utilize the course for agility training.


Ben constructed a series of four hurdles, six 4x4 boxes, broad jump, 7-foot A-frame wall, a catwalk where the dog has to climb a ladder to a small platform, wall with a window, chain link fence and a crawl obstacle to make up the course.

Koennicke says Bens Eagle Scout project is a great addition to the K-9 unit and vital to the dogs training. Zorro is one of two K-9s in OTC and is a dual purpose dog, trained in narcotics detection and patrol work, which includes tracking, search and rescue, and handler protection. Everything Ben built had to be to exact specifications to meet the training and certification standards of law enforcement.

Koennicke says hell most likely set up the course this spring in Perham, allowing for Zorro to train in Otter Tail County rather than going to Alexandria or Detroit Lakes for certification. It is also an opportunity for Otter Tail County to train other departments and have their K-9 units come here for training. K-9 training combines obedience and agility and holds the dogs to very high standards.

K-9 units are required to certify regionally in Minnesota once a year. Departments from all over the Midwest go to regionals each year for trials. In previous years Zorro has qualified at the regional trials for nationals but has yet to compete nationally. Koennicke has been an OTC Sheriffs Deputy for eight years, and Zorro has been his partner since 2001.

Ben, a senior at Perham High School, has been in scouting since the 5th grade and Eagle Scout is the highest achievement he can get. He said once the designs for the obstacles were set it only took about five hours in late August to complete with the help of about 15 family members and other scouts.

Buchin to receive Eagle Scout May 7

Sonja Kosler

Staff Writer


On May 7 an Eagle Scout Court of Honor advancement ceremony will be held for Ben Buchin of Perham.

Ben has been involved in scouting since his family moved to Perham when he was in fifth grade and has now reached the highest level of the Boy Scouts. Ben is among many scouts who have taken on important community projects as part of the Eagle Scout process.

The project needed to be completed before Bens 18th birthday on September 25 and in May he was well aware that time was running out to get the project organized and then completed by the deadline. Then Bens hunting buddy former scoutmaster, Mike Guck, called him with an idea and according to Ben, The rest is history.

Guck had learned from Scott Koennicke who is an Otter Tail County Sheriffs deputy with the K-9 unit, of the need for agility equipment and a training course for the K-9 training program. On May 23, Ben started his project.

The scout is required to find the project, design it, collaborate with others, raise funds and keep a project record. The project book includes a statement about the project and projects for the people who will be involved, costs, photos and then a final statement of actual time, people, and materials. There is also a project analysis what worked, what would be done differently next time.

The project took a lot of teamwork. Ben and Koennicke visited Detroit Lakes to look at the training equipment in place there to help with the final designs. Ben and Guck cut the plywood and 2 x 4s needed for the modular units and then the construction crew got busy. Ben had planned on 15 people working for 2 days to build the units, but fellow scouts, family members, and friends completed the task in just five hours.

The team produced a broad jump, a window, a series of hurdles, six find the guy boxes, an A-frame wall, a catwalk with ladder and ramp, and a crawl space. The pieces are bulky and heavy. Ben says, they can be moved, but not easily.

Financing was also a team effort. The scouts cant use any of their own money. Ben says he wasnt planning on doing car washes or bake sales, so he contacted local organizations for donations to raise the $1,000 needed. Ace Hardware and Bauck Paint in Perham donated paint and the Perham Lions helped a lot. The county chipped in about $200.


The project wasnt over with the end of construction; Ben still needed to complete his project book. Ben admits this was his least favorite part of the project. His favorite? Meeting Deputy Koennicke and his K-9 partner, Zorro. The contact was meaningful for Ben because, Law enforcement is an interest for me.

Ben appeared before his Board of Review in December, presented his project book and responded to questions. He identified getting started as the biggest barrier to his project. Bens father, Dan, is his Scout Master, but didnt sit on the review panel. Dan says the Eagle Scout work is about being able to work with the troop and the process of getting from vision to the end. Mom, Janet, watched Ben work through his project. She says he was well organized and handled all the details well.

Dan recognizes all of the valuable community projects that come from Eagle Scouts. Right now Caleb Reuer is building historical reproduction benches for the Pioneer Grounds north of Perham.

Scouting is a Buchin tradition. Bens grandfather George was a scoutmaster in Baxter and Ben himself would like to be involved with a troop in the future. Bens younger brother, Tim is about to begin his Eagle Scout project and is open to suggestions. Ben recommends scouting, Its nice to get outdoors, a chance to be around people. It teaches respect.

Whats next for Ben? After graduation, hell attend a semester of college and then continue his community service. On Jan. 4 hell trade his Eagle Scout uniform for one of the Army National Guard. Hell be deployed to Fort Benning, Georgia for basic training.

For now friends, family and community members will celebrate Bens advancement to Eagle Scout on Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 p.m. at Calvary Lutheran Church in Perham.

What To Read Next
Get Local