Derek Franz

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January 25, 2012
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Bar mitzvah service project is helping the animal shelter

An Edwards pre-teen is already investing his talents in the community.

Nathan Badger turns 13 on May 13. As part of the Jewish B'nai Vail congregation, he is required to do a community service project prior to his bar mitzvah.

"This young man happens to have a good eye for photography and he is selling his photos and donating the money to the Eagle County Animal Shelter," said the shelter's director, Shawn Markmann, who stressed that he has nothing to do with the fund-raising. "I can't participate in any fund-raising for the shelter, but if someone wants to give the shelter money, well, I don't have a problem with that," he said.

Nathan is also volunteering at the shelter in addition to his fund-raising. He is selling a variety of his animal photos in the form of greeting cards and framed photographs. The cards cost $2.50 each and the framed 4X6-inch pictures are $8 each.

"He has raised $200 since the end of December," said Badger's mom, Claude Badger. "We suggested he keep some of the money to recoup his costs but he decided to give it all to the shelter after he saw how long some of the cats had been there."

Nathan's photos were taken with a digital "point-and-shoot" camera on a recent trip to the Out of Africa Wildlife Park near Sedona, Ariz. One of his favorite photographs is of a lizard he encountered on a hike there. The other photos feature animals at the wildlife park and some scenery as well. There are six varieties of framed photographs and four cards.

So far, Nathan has sold his work at his congregation but he is planning to start selling them at his Berry Creek Middle School's home basketball games. The photos may also be purchased by emailing

Claude said she grew up with a darkroom and Nathan grew up with photography.

"Wherever we go, we have a camera," she said. "We gave Nathan the point-and-shoot a couple years ago."

Nathan said he likes to take pictures of "whatever looks cool." Animals definitely fall into the "cool" category.

"I like animals because they are funny and cute, and I like their personalities," he said. "I have two cats from different shelters and my sister has a rat. I chose this project because animals need good homes and people to love them."

As for turning 13, that is a memorable step for a boy in a Jewish congregation.

"I'm a little bit scared," he said.

Like his talent, however, he will probably discover that growing into maturity will come quite naturally.

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The VailDaily Updated Jan 25, 2012 01:49PM Published Jan 25, 2012 01:43PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.