Registered: December 2016
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My name is Noah and I am a senior at Newbury High School. I recently achieved the rank of Eagle Scout from Boy Scout Troop 99. An Eagle Scout project is required to receive the rank and I chose to clean up a wetland park behind my high school called the Newbury Outdoor Education Lab. The park was used regularly by the elementary students at the school in order to teach them about nature and familiarize them with the ecosystems that can be found within the community. For the last twenty years the wetlands have been allowed to overgrow everything that was put in place, including an amphitheater area, footbridges, picnic tables, a dock, and various trails through the brush.
For my project at the Newbury Outdoor Education Lab, I restored the dock, placed a new bridge over a large ditch, reopened a few of the blocked trails, pulled all the picnic tables out of a pond, cleared the amphitheater seating, and cleaned up the sign at the entrance of the park. At the request of the ground maintenance staff, we made sure to open a back entrance for emergency vehicle access to the park.
This project meant a lot to me because I remember going back to the park area while in elementary school and learning some amazing things about the outdoors. A few years ago the programs stopped and the park fell into disrepair, but when the head of maintenance of the school mentioned reopening the park, I was elated. The park was covered in knee high grass, there were picnic tables in the pond, and the bridge to get to the dock was nothing more than a few planks. On top of that, you could not see the park's entrance sign, and the amphitheater seating had entirely disappeared beneath the overgrowth. I knew the state of the park was fixable and that when completed, the park could offer the same experiences that I had when I was younger to students and community members like myself for years to come. As I began to promote my project, one of my track coaches--also a second grade teacher at the school--went out on her own time to some of the brush with a weed whacker. If she had not gone and done this, I would never had remembered that there even was amphitheater seating back by the pond.
From there, I planned everything out and scheduled three work days to tackle the long list of clean-up tasks I had noticed were necessary. Before my first workday my grandma gave me a call and told me that a journalist had been at the school board meeting where I presented my project and had to decide to write about it in the Geauga Maple Leaf, the county newspaper. Shortly thereafter, I got a phone call from another journalist who had heard about what I was doing and was interested in my story. I answered his questions and he agreed to write a story on me. While I was out fundraising a week later, most of the businessmen and women I spoke to mentioned reading about the project in the paper. The articles that the reporter had written had actually allowed me to acquire funds for the funds much more easily. Living in such a small town, we all depend on each other and the community stepped up to help me with my project without hesitation.
For each of my work days, I had twenty or more people ready to work on whatever task I gave them. Work day one was spent cleaning up some of the trails that wound their way through the wetlands and doing a substantial amount of power washing to clean the deck and park sign. That same day, we also pulled the picnic tables out of the pond and gave each of them a good scrubbing. Day two was comprised of more trail clearing, deck board and amphitheater seating replacement, and the sealing of the deck. The bridge was the next obstacle to overcome. The bridge that I got permission to use is another Eagle Scout's project that was put in at nearby state park almost eight years ago where the trails surrounding it were no longer in use. The bridge was removed using a front-end loader. We then used the front-end loader to walk the bridge down the path. After loading the bridge onto the trailer, the bridge was taken home, power washed, and resealed. On the final work day, we placed the bridge into the wetland park using materials donated by one of the local businesses. When the final work day came to a close, I felt very accomplished to know that the park was once again in good shape and that it could be used by the community and school once again. The project was very important to me because it was a piece of my past that I was able to preserve so that those younger than me can have the same experiences. When the project was completed, the same teacher mentioned earlier, who was very involved in the project, took her class back to the park to see it for the first time. I was eating lunch out on the patio that day, and the class returned from the park while I was still outside. The kids all rushed up the hill to give me a hug and to tell me how much they loved the park. One of her students even started asking how long the park had been there and why they had not gone back to see it sooner. After that, they began to pester their teacher about when they could go back again to explore more of the park. I have never felt that proud before in my life.
Doing this project for the school, and the kids who go there meant a lot to me. The fact that I was able to give those younger than me the chance to experience the same things that I did when I was younger was one of the biggest motivators to get this project done. One of the best parts about the project was that as I began to work on it, the school received an award from the park district for their work with maintaining the park. One of the ladies who accepted the award was also present for two of my three work days to help with the identification of invasive species. She was actually the one who was called to survey the park initially, before it was opened in the 1960's and now she was here to see it being reopened. I am very proud of what I have accomplished--with the help from my community, family, and friends--and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I plan to visit the park often to make sure that the school follows through on their promise to maintain it because it holds a special place in my heart.