Our People: Employee builds bat houses for local park

Community News

What started as a simple question from his kids led Brandon Burrow, Electronic Services Manager with Marathon Petroleum Logistics & Storage Terminals in Findlay, Ohio, to organize a project supporting the park district in his community. Sitting in his back yard last summer and watching bats zoom around, his kids asked “Where do bats live?” Like any parent without an answer, Burrow took to researching and finding an answer.

Burrow learned that many parks and nature areas have bat houses – small wooden structures that allow bats to live and sleep when they are not flying and hunting for insects. A hobby woodworker, Burrow found bat house plans and decided to build some for family as gifts.

“A bat house must be carefully constructed to provide the optimum environment for a bat to utilize,” said Burrow. “The construction involves an airtight, moisture-free, multi-chamber structure where bats can roost. The houses are painted black to absorb the heat of the sun and sealed with an actual roof and sealant to keep the bats warm and dry.”

Pleased with how the initial bat houses turned out, Burrow contacted the Hancock Parks District in Findlay, and they confirmed there was a need for bat houses. Burrow worked with Marathon Petroleum’s charitable giving program and received a $1,000 grant for materials to construct 25 bat houses for use in Hancock County parks.

Burrow initially planned construction for Spring 2021, but with soaring lumber prices, the project was put on hold. As prices returned to normal levels, the project got back on track this fall. Burrow made a bulk purchase of the necessary supplies and organized a team build with his coworkers Matt Vick, Kevin Snyder, James Wilhelm and Doug Parsell, along with Burrow’s wife, Jennifer, in October. Through the procurement, cutting, building, painting and shingling, the team volunteered a combined 76 hours, with Burrow himself logging 42 hours, to construct 25 bat houses.

“We built 20 small houses, which hold up to 80 small brown bats each, and five large bat houses, which hold up to 250 bats each. This provides housing for up to 2,850 bats that the park district intends to install at up to three local parks,” explained Burrow.

For Burrow and the volunteers, this was a fun, non-traditional volunteering team effort.

“It really goes to show that we all have different talents and abilities that, if willing to share with others, allow us to give to our communities in a way we feel comfortable,” added Burrow. 

The team also leveraged the volunteer incentive program, logging their volunteer hours to earn three, $500 grants for the park district. For Burrow, the project was personally rewarding. His family uses the outdoor and recreational areas of the Hancock County Park District.

“I took an idea of something my kids and I were making for family and gifts and reached out to folks that I thought could benefit, and the Park District loved it! They don’t have people offer up their workshops and abilities every day to build something this unique, which is a pretty good feeling,” said Burrow.

And his partnership with the Hancock Park District is continuing.

“Now that I’ve established this relationship with the park district, we have talked about future projects that they want me to lead or participate in. They emailed me some pictures and designs for a different kind of bat house they want at a different park, and I am going to build them next year,” said Burrow.