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January 1, 2013 > Close to home

Close to home

By Simon Wong

Another young man is on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout with the completion of his Eagle Project in Union City in November 2012.

ÒGrant Stevens and his volunteer crew planted 45 Cedrus deodara conifer trees around Town Estates/Kitayama Park to help expand the urban forest and sequester carbon as part of the CityÕs Climate Action Plan,Ó explained Union City Grounds Supervisor, Nelson Kirk. ÒThe conifers also form a canopy to shade the pathways for visitors who walk in the park daily. Stevens and his crew also painted the baseball backstops and installed a drinking fountain.Ó

Trees provide positive mental benefits and healing qualities. Mature trees provide a sense of "home" to a neighborhood. Almost every city in the United States has lost trees along its streets because of development, pollution, disease and neglect. Tree foliage filters dust and can help remove toxic pollutants from the atmosphere. The foliage captures and removes a wide range of smog-producing compounds such as ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, airborne ammonia and some sulphur dioxide.

Eagle Scout is the highest attainable rank in boy scouting and requires years of dedication and hard work. Fewer than five percent achieve it. Stevens has been in scouting for eight years - one as a Cub Scout and seven as a Boy Scout. Twenty-one merit badges are needed towards qualifying as an Eagle Scout; a dozen are compulsory and the remaining nine are elective. His include Family Life, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the World, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Rifling, Astronomy, Leatherwork, Archery, Reptile and Amphibian Study and Space Exploration.

ÒI had approached several golf courses in the area, hoping to do my Eagle Project with one of them but plans fell through when the course changed management. Five or six months ago, I approached Nelson Kirk for ideas; he presented approximately 50 projects awaiting attention. This one is very close to my home so I seized the opportunity because IÕll be able to see it mature,Ó Stevens explained. ÒThe preparation was much easier than anticipated. IÕd envisaged hours of fundraising but Mr. Kirk and the City of Union City supplied the necessary materials, including the trees. All I had to do was supply the labor; IÕm grateful to fellow Moreau students who volunteered. There is also a tradition of mutual help between scouts working on Eagle projects. My family, other members of Troop 603 and their families also assisted. Their involvement is greatly appreciated. I also gathered information and presented the project to the local Eagle Council member who fully supportive. Thanks also to Scoutmaster Jeff Rainey, the Troop 603 Board and Nelson Kirk, all of whom approved the project, and to Union City Public WorksÕ Domingo Alcon and Jesus Banuelos for their on-site supervision.Ó

According to Stevens, he had worried at length about how difficult and stressful the Eagle Project might be. While more work remains to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the projectÕs completion is a milestone accompanied by a sense of relief. He is delighted to have been able to make a difference to the area where he grew up and to see it daily, stating that it feels good just to add something to the community.

ÒBecoming an Eagle Scout will be a massive achievement for me. I feel that when I earn that rank, it will be a major turning point in my life. I have worked for this for so long that I cannot and will not abandon this journey until it is finished,Ó said 17-year old Stevens.

As for the future, the Moreau Catholic High School student would like to attend the University of Nevada Reno (UNR) but is also happy to remain close to home. He has a conditional acceptance from California State University, East Bay for a music major. He is also considering political science as his major should he not attend UNR.

ÒUnion City owes the Boy Scouts of America a debt of gratitude,Ó said Kirk. ÒMost of our Eagle Scout projects are dedicated to planting trees in neighborhood parks and along boulevards and roadsides. These young men have become stewards in our urban forest and we appreciate them and their parentsÕ support.Ó

For more information about Scouting within the San Francisco Bay Area Council, visit Alternatively contact Joe Barton at (510) 577-9227 and or Steve Armstrong at 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 more information about Scouting within the Santa Clara County Council, visit Alternatively, contact Ken Schott at (408) 280-5088 or 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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