What does it mean to be an Eagle Scout? How does one become an Eagle Scout? Why does it require a project? These are common questions to someone who hasn’t achieved the rank of Eagle. We celebrate when a Scout is decorated with the Eagle Scout rank. We give gifts and have a party. But what happens before the party? How much does a Scout really have to accomplish in order to earn the rank only about 6% of Scouts achieve on average?
Bluffton Eagle project more than just single effort at community home
Troop 256’s Jonah Brown started looking at possible Eagle Scout projects back in February 2020. His Scoutmaster, Mike Metzger got him thinking about a project at the Mennonite Memorial Home of Bluffton (MMH) since it's quite literally in his own back yard. The home for seniors had contacted Mike asking about different Eagle projects which could be done around MMH. However, these talks were cut short very quickly because of the coronavirus pandemic..
“Pretty much everything stopped including my search for a project,” Jonah shared, as his pursuit for a project was halted in March.
Fast forward to June and MMH contacted Jonah again asking if he still was willing to do a project. Of course, he said yes. However, what they wanted to do wasn’t enough for a project Jonah & his Scoutmaster thought.
About a month later, MMH contacted Jonah again, saying they liked the stoned garden beds so much they wanted the rest of the garden beds done. Meaning two island beds in a parking lot, a raised bed, a bed around a pine tree, a few smaller beds, and a bed that went along the entire side of the building. This required at least 49 tons of stone, and it was estimated one ton could cover forty square feet.
The rough idea of just stoning all the garden beds turned into removing some plants and replanting two of the beds (those being the two island beds as stated above) and removing two of the smaller beds and seeding them with grass.
Over the course of five days, Jonah led his crew of fellow Scouts, volunteers and adult leaders and replanted, laid garden mat and stone. This all took place in October where the group experienced a measurable snow fall one day and 70 degrees the next.
“The last day was spent solely on stoning the side of the building, however that day it was like 70 degrees, so we were a little better off that day,” Jonah said. “That’s Ohio for you!”
At the end, Jonah is happy with how it turned out, and MMH is as well. Jonah shared he has had several family members in the senior home over time, so it’s nice to give back to the home for their services.
The best part of the project has got to be seeing the impact this project has had on both the staff and residences of the home. Jonah said the most challenging part for him for this project was probably having to get out of his comfort zone as he has never landscaped before, but T.R., the grounds keeper for MMH, who also helped with a lot of the project, knew what he was doing and taught Jonah along the way.
An Eagle project is born
Scout aims for healthier community
An observant Wauseon Scout noticed a missing element in the community and took aim to make the situation better and healthier while doing so in the process.
“There are no bike racks in the parks,” said Matthew Schroeder as he explained his proposal to the City of Wauseon Parks Board. “I see kids laying their bikes all over the grass, and adults drive to the park when they could ride instead.”
After a pandemic began keeping everyone at home, Matthew embraced cycling to get out and exercise.
Homecoming Park, the closest to Matthew’s home, has a large walking trail, and many residents walk alone or with a family member to exercise. Matthew began to think about how wonderful it would be if more adults rode to the park to take their visits and walks instead of driving.
“It could improve the health of the whole town if we had bike racks in every park,” said Matthew.
An Eagle project was born.
Finding the parks board had no budget for bike racks, Matthew contacted Norm Zeiter, owner of Swanton Welding, and asked him to donate materials and manufacturing. He presented his design and after discussing some changes, Norm agreed to donate not only manufacturing, but delivery and blueprint adjustments as well.
The next phase of the project consisted of digging a hole and creating a concrete pad where bolts would keep the rack in place. Again, he reached out to the community and MR Ready Mix, a division of Gerken Companies, donated and poured concrete.
“Coordinating volunteers was a challenge for Matthew,” says his mother, Erika Dutcher.
“I watched as he nervously waited at the park wondering if the volunteers were going to show up some days. But every project workday was a little bit better, and by the end, I saw him making phone calls ahead of time to remind volunteers they had agreed to help.”
“A couple of times, I watched him grow right before my eyes,” she bragged.
Matthew initially became interested in cycling after earning the Cycling Merit Badge at summer camp. He enjoys going places without the sound of an engine and only the sounds of nature around him. He also taught himself how to perform his own bicycle maintenance and repairs.
Matthew’s father, Frank Dutcher, recalls “When he was 13, he had just about every kid in the neighborhood coming over for bike repairs.”ew initially became interested in cycling after earning the Cycling Merit Badge at summer camp. He enjoys going places without the sound of an engine and only the sounds of nature around him. He also taught himself how to perform his own bicycle maintenance and repairs.
Not waiting until the last minute was the biggest lesson Matthew says he learned during the project experience. “Procrastination made my project a lot harder than it had to be,” he said.
The Eagle Board of Review also posed a challenge for Matthew as he was asked to explain how he had grown over the last few years as a Life Scout before he was awarded the prestigious rank.
“Matthew is a man of few words,” says his youth pastor, Matt Strader who has mentored Matthew through youth group at Crossroads Evangelical Church in Wauseon. Matthew’s mother adds, “Those words are usually straight to the point.”
Both Troop 8 from Christ United Church and Crew 265 from the Wauseon American Legion Post #265 supported Matthew along his journey.
Matthew stood proud after review board members awarded him the rank of Eagle. Serving on Matthew’s board, left to right is Defiance Police Chief Todd Shafer, Defiance County Prosecutor Morris Murray and Steve Zachrich of Troop 75.
After graduating with the class of 2021, Matthew plans to enter an apprenticeship to become an electrician. He also plans to remain active with his Venturing Crew and is working on a plan to continue installing bike racks in other parks around Wauseon as an ongoing service project.
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