Taking wing: Eagle Scouts learn from journey as they complete service projects

michael_eagle_038_cropped.pngwebPhoto courtesy of the Schmer family
Michael Schmer (right), 13, of Allen Park, oversees progress on his Eagle Scout project, which provides raised planting beds and improved fencing to deter area squirrels from diminishing the harvest of the community garden at Transfiguration Lutheran Church, 8250 Pardee in Taylor, which supplies fresh produce to Fishes and Loaves Community Food Pantry.

By SUE SUCHYTA
Times-Herald Newspapers

TAYLOR – Eagle Scouts from Troop 1061 in Taylor found they learned as much on the journey to achieve their rank as the skills they gained while completing their service project.

Eagle Scouts Zachary Winston, 17, of Allen Park, twins Alex and Jared Rieden, 16, of Allen Park, and Eagle Scout candidate Michael Schmer, 13, of Allen Park agree. They found that organization and communication skills are as essential to the successful completion of an Eagle project as the hands-on skills they learn while completing them.

Winston cleared a field adjacent to the Father Saylor Knights of Columbus Council 3774, 17113 Champaign in Allen Park — where his troop had met when he was younger — for his Eagle project. A fire pit was part of the original plans, but when fire regulation concerns arose, the K of C decided not to pursue it.

Winston said the K of C uses the field for fraternal activities, but some of the cleared area has become overgrown again.

He said he learned many lessons in the course of the project.

“A lot of hard work really goes a long way when you are trying to plan something,” Winston said. “You try to make sure everyone is doing (the work) correctly, too.”

He said he discovered that a communication style that works with one person might not work well with someone else.

Winston said completing the project helped him become a better person.

“It’s hard. Not a lot of people make it,” Winston said. “It’s really reaching a goal to do it.”

Alex Rieden built a retaining wall around a new sign at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church, 6442 Pelham in Taylor, and removed decorative gravel from a bed in preparation for future landscaping.

He said in addition to the volunteer hours provided by his troop, he did a lot of planning, paperwork and material procurement.

He said in addition to the results, he now appreciates all the behind-the-scenes work and hours that volunteers put into projects.

“Doing this I realize there are people at my school who do this every year, and I realize that it is a lot of work,” Alex Rieden said. “So I did it once. It kept me humble of what other people do.”

Jared Rieden accomplished the exterior painting of Transfiguration Lutheran Church, 8250 Pardee in Taylor. He said the church supplied the paint and he made sure his volunteers had food, transportation to the worksite and the brushes and rollers needed.

He said he knew the project would demand a lot of work going into it, and he appreciates the help his fellow Scouts and parent volunteers provided, especially the parent volunteers who guided him through the required paperwork.

“You definitely learn to plan, and time management, and a lot of things that require a lot of thinking,” Jared Rieden said. “You don’t want to just scribble down any old thing. You have to think about what you are doing, because if you make a mistake, you can go back and fix it, but that mistake can cost you time, which could be very aggravating or very minor.”

He found that his own strong self-confidence was an asset, as it helped him to both encourage volunteers and keep them on task.

He said his biggest challenge was to keep motivated in the face of daunting paperwork.

“It was definitely hard to keep going every time you were knee-deep in paperwork,” Jared Rieden said. “You just want to stop and you don’t want to keep going. But you have to tell yourself to keep doing it, because it is going to pay off in the end.”

Schmer, who awaits his Eagle Scout board of review to achieve the rank,
elevated planting beds and improved fencing to deter area squirrels from diminishing the harvest of the community garden at Transfiguration Lutheran Church, which supplies fresh produce to Fishes and Loaves Community Food Pantry in Taylor.

He also installed a rain barrel in the garden area, and fixed the foundation of a loosened mailbox post.

He said a church official approached him about the project when he was helping fellow Scout Jared Rieden paint the church exterior for his Eagle project.

Schmer said he is pleased that part of his Eagle project, which resulted in an increased harvest for the community garden, helps other people, not just him.

His father, Assistant Scoutmaster Mike Schmer, said he feels pride when he sees the efforts that the young men have put into their Eagle projects over the years.

“I believe that Boy Scouting breeds confidence,” he said, “and I think being a confident person in today’s society is of the utmost importance.

“In anything from job interviews to just day-to-day life activity, a confident person just seems to excel that much further than somebody who might have a self-confidence issue. To me, that’s the most important thing we teach.”

The Riedens’ father, Past Scoutmaster Gene Rieden, said one of the most important things potential Eagle Scouts need to learn is the ability to manage their project.

“That is what we enjoy watching, to watch them run their project, to manage it,” he said. “That is the best thing that we can do for them. They become adults.”

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