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October 5, 2010 > Special Life Event: Eagle Scout project

Special Life Event: Eagle Scout project

By Simon Wong

Photo courtesy of Nelson Kirk

Seventeen-year old Brad Windsor from Boy Scouts of America San Francisco Bay Area Mission Peak Troop 103 and his team of volunteers successfully completed his Eagle Scout project on August 20 and 21, 2010, under the direction of Union City Public Works employees William Bontadelli and Julio Duran.

Windsor installed 34 trees, 40 carpet roses, red lava sand, gorilla hair mulch and a bench at Old Alvarado-Cesar Chavez Park, Union City. A mix of flowering, deciduous and evergreen trees were planted in large spaces, previously invaded by ivy and other plants, to create shade, provide screening and noise protection and improve aesthetics. The carpet roses, gorilla hair mulch and red lava sand will work well with the shrubs to provide balance against the trees and cover bare patches of dirt.

The key beneficiaries are local residents who visit the park frequently. The improvements make the park, on Smith and Watkins Streets, more appealing. The City of Union City is a secondary beneficiary because the large trees and carpet roses require minimal maintenance.

Not only is Union City Grounds Supervisor Nelson Kirk appreciative of Windsor's efforts, and those of every boy scout who has contributed to the Union City community en route to achieving his Eagle Scout rank, he regards Windsor's Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Report as one of the best he has seen. His project write-up is equally impressive and thorough.

Windsor has enjoyed every moment of his six years as a Boy Scout. His Eagle project took about four months to plan and execute, longer than he would like to admit, but he readily acknowledges there were many considerations and decisions to make.

"I've always wanted to undertake a landscaping project. A newly built house is pristine but eventually requires renovation. However, a tree improves as it matures. Maintenance and careful nurturing are certainly needed but the deodar cedar we planted will extend outwards by 20 feet on either side one day and numerous people will picnic under it or sit down to rest on a hot day. I've attended at least three other Eagle Scout landscaping projects and find the results rewarding. You dig a hole, put in the fertilizer and sapling, fill the hole and insert a stake. It's half-an-hour of hard work but it's difficult to get wrong and the difference is noticeable immediately," stated Windsor.

"My project ended up at Old Alvarado-Cesar Chavez Park because of opportunity. Nelson Kirk is a superb facilitator with a network of arborists and funding. When you see an empty patch of dirt and have a list of trees that could be planted there, it's almost hard not to plan something. I had clear areas to address and the resources to do so," he added.

Windsor surfed the Web and referred to field guides, for approximately three weeks, to get a feel for which trees on his list would look best in different locations. Once he had an idea of what he wanted to achieve, he consulted Kim Fisher, a professional landscape architect with the East Bay Regional Park District.

"She had some really interesting points, such as how trees with larger trunks can interrupt the flow of water from a sprinkler, creating dry patches on a lawn. Seriously, who would ever have thought of that?" Windsor reflected.

As he revised his plans, he met frequently with Kirk and Bontadelli, noting their comments about the practicality of the project, what bushes would need to be trimmed and watered, which would stand up well to daily traffic, etc. His Troop Eagle Advisor, Janis Tipton-King, was a botany major and also provided plenty of input. He is thankful for their time and help.

"Though my proposal was presented in Word, most of the planning was in PowerPoint. I had little pictures of the trees which I would re-arrange on a satellite view of the park. I also kept actual pictures of the park on the same slide, so I had a better view of what I was working with. Sometimes I drew little circles to remind me of how big each tree would grow. My landscape architecture merit badge necessitated similar plans for a landscaping project and proved invaluable for my Eagle project. Mr. Paul Androwsky and the Troop Committee Chair Tim Howard granted final approval of my project," explained Windsor.

"I'm really excited the work is complete. Not everything was perfect but overall I'm proud of the result. The people with whom I worked have great hearts and it was a pleasure to get to know them. There are so many things I try to handle every day, so I'm glad at least one of them turned out this well. I can't wait to return in several years or to show my friends next time we visit Union Landing. I now start on my Eagle Application.

One of the requirements of becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouting, is to earn at least 21 merit badges, a dozen of which are compulsory and the remainder elective. Windsor's electives include public speaking, astronomy, archery, canoeing, leatherwork, chemistry, electricity, landscape architecture, woodwork, rifle shooting and American heritage.

"Nuclear Science was probably my favorite. I was able to meet someone who works at a nuclear power plant and we spoke for at least three hours about how that worked," he stated. "Wilderness survival was another favorite; I learned all sorts of things like cooking dinner on rocks using spices I picked myself in the woods. I've also slept overnight, three times, in a shelter I made. In Pioneering, a group of 13-year olds and I built a 50 ft.-high tower. Small boat sailing is always fun, too. First Aid and Lifesaving aren't elective merit badges but I enjoyed them so much I went on to take a Red Cross-certified lifesaving class."

"Becoming an Eagle Scout is both recognition and a mandate. I know there are many very successful people before me who've received the award, both within the troops I've known and world-wide. I'll be happy to count myself among them. It's definitely a calling to live up to though. People will have an idea of the projects I've completed and the code by which I live and expect me to be able to deliver at that same level. I'll do my best.

"I think all the time that if I could have a superpower, it would be the ability to slow down time so that I could fit everything I want to get done in my day. This year, I'm really looking to progress as far as I can in wrestling and speech and debate but I know college applications and spending some quality time with my friends before we leave is important, too. I know of at least two troop camp-outs I want to plan before I leave. I really can't wait. There's at least two years of things that need to be done in my senior year.

"As for college, there are many places where I'd love to study but I know I'll be able to enjoy myself wherever I go. I'm looking forward to studying chemistry, possibly looking into nuclear technology.

"Later in life, I see myself coming home every day from a fascinating job to a loving family. I hope to own my own house and teach my kids practical skills. I see myself taking an active role in my church and hope to participate in Boy Scouting as an adult but a lot depends on whether I have boys or girls," concluded Windsor.

For information about Scouting within the San Francisco Bay Area Council, visit www.sfbac.org. Alternatively contact Joe Barton at (510) 577-9227 and joeb@sfbac.org or Steve Armstrong at starmstr@comcast.net about the different scouting units in the Mission Peak District (serves Fremont, Union City and Newark) and Tres Ranchos District (serves Hayward, Castro Valley, San Lorenzo and San Leandro).

For information about Scouting within the Santa Clara County Council, visit www.scccbsa.org. Alternatively, contact Ken Schott at (408) 280-5088 or ken@scccbsa.org about the different scouting units in the Coyote Creek District (serves Edenvale, Evergreen, Milpitas, Berryessa, Alum Rock, Mt. Pleasant, parts of downtown and East San Jose).

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