Soaring in the background: Eagle Scout projects affect DHS

Eagle Scout David Best stands cheerily by a shed he constructed and a clean path once cluttered with weeds.
Eagle Scout and junior David Best stands by a shed he constructed and a clean path once cluttered with weeds.

By Ryan Nishikawa, Staff–

A young sophomore cleans up pathways, fixes the goat pens and builds new shed for the Davis High agricultural department. On the other side of campus, another young man devotes time to refurbishing the bike trail by the tennis court. Back in 2005, an ambitious jazz musician organized a concert to help a high school affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Young Life Scouts (the rank preceding Eagle Scout) hoping to earn the Boy Scouts’ highest award spend an average of 181 hours on their final project, which frequently benefits DHS. Unfortunately, their efforts go largely unnoticed by the general populace.

Junior David Best’s project sits outside of the public eye in the Future Farmers of America area of campus, obscured by tall chain-link fences.

Best set to work on clearing up all the weeds along an overgrown path in the FFA area, repairing the iron bars of the sheep and holding pens and building a new shed in the back.

Motivated beyond the red, white and blue badge, Best had personal investment in the project.

“With David, he’d always be proud of some livestock […] he was raising through FFA,” fellow Eagle Scout and senior Colin Ruan said. “So, I know his project wasn’t just something to get the rank, but it was more of a personal passion of his.”

“I did my project [for the agriculture department] because my goat was one of the animals being affected by the weeds,” Best explained.

Best finished his project in three grueling days under the hot sun. “We had water but it was over 100 degrees,” he said.

While Best’s project remains intact to this day, others have not fared nearly as well.

According to Linda Paumer, advancement chair for the Scouts in Yolo County and mentor to Eagle Scouts, many projects have faded from memory.

The first Eagle Scout she mentored was DHS alumnus Brian Page, who earned his Eagle on Jan. 1, 2002. Page built a display case kiosk for the quad to post announcements and upcoming dates.

However, many students who saw the case taunted him for being a Scout and covered up important announcements with crude drawings.

“He took it in stride and he was mature enough to realize it was their problem, not his,” Paumer recalled.

Today, Page’s project cannot be admired by the DHS population–campus staff removed it a few years ago, as it became difficult to maintain.

While many Eagle Scout projects are construction or repair jobs, alumnus Colin Borges organized a project suitable to his background as a jazz musician: he performed at a jazz concert to raise money for kids affected by Hurricane Katrina.

However, Borges could not treat the concert like an ordinary fundraiser, because “you can’t do a project to raise money,” Paumer said.

Instead, Borges had concert attendees donate CDs, CD players and other items, which he gave to a high school in Louisiana.

“The Eagle Scout’s project should make an impact in the community,” said Mark Wong, Chairman of the Yolo District Roundtable. “You shouldn’t do a project if it [will not] make an impact.”

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