Connections was thrilled when Rick Li, NCHS Student, Cross Country Athlete, National Honor Society member, and member of Boy Scout Troop #107, selected the Eco Connections Teaching Garden as a part of his journey towards becoming an Eagle Scout. Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is a significant accomplishment and the Boy Scouts of America hold the rank in such high regard that it is considered, "a state of being". There are several requirements along the path towards becoming an Eagle Scout and Rick selected our garden as one of the steps of his journey.
Through our work with Veronica Porter of Veteran's Victory Farm, part of our dreams are to raise our beds so that they can accommodate the space needed for our plants to grow to the best of their abilities while simultaneously allowing our students who use wheelchairs the opportunity to garden alongside their peers. Lynnette Hoole, Naperville Park District Volunteer Coordinator, worked with Rick to share our garden possibilities. Lynnette and Rick discussed the idea, scope of the project, timeframe, and Rick's overarching interests. After sharing our needs with Lynnette and through her conversations and our meeting with Rick, we were overjoyed when Rick decided that he would like to raise 4 of our 8 beds. We talked about the materials, agreed on the new height, and learned that Rick would be learning new woodworking skills along the way.
We had the pleasure of asking Rick several questions about what led him to become a Boy Scout and why he chose our beds as his project:
What drew you to be a part of the Scouts?
I believe that the Scout Motto—“Be Prepared”—well encompasses what Scouting has always meant to me. The organization does a great job of teaching its members how to prepare themselves for everyday life, to react to our circumstances intelligently and productively. Whether we’re out camping in the woods or swimming in a pool, it’s reassuring to know that you’re ready for any situation. Even more important to me, however, is that Boy Scouts places an emphasis on personal growth. In the same way we are to be prepared for, say, a hiking trip, we’re also prepared to give back to our communities and meaningfully affect others’ lives. I joined Scouting to learn how to react to the world around me; I stayed in Scouting to shape the world around me in a positive way.
Why did you select raising our beds as your project?
When I was choosing my project, I wanted to do something that benefited the local school community. The garden beds at Naperville Connections were a great opportunity to bring together students—some of the groups that came out to help included the NCHS Men’s Cross Country team, the NCHS National Honors Society, and my Boy Scout troop—to contribute to our district’s learning environment. My hope was to select a project which aligned with our district’s collaborative culture. I also love gardening and spending time outside, so being able to share that passion was a huge bonus.
Over the course of several weeks, Rick built and routed the frames to raise 4 of our beds. Installation day was a brisk November day and needless to say, it was amazing. Rick not only had his Dad, Boy Scouts, and Scout parents with him, yet he had Cross Country athletes and NHS friends on-hand as well. Rick organized quite a team that was busily working at Connections: securing the frames, moving dirt, and installing the weed barrier.
There aren't enough words to thank Rick for his hard work and Lynnette for identifying our project as an Eagle Scout opportunity. We are so thankful for our Naperville community, the support that we receive, and the way that our community comes together as a team. Thank you Rick; you should be proud, your work is beautiful and we are thankful for you!
You can learn more about Rick's Boy Scout troop here, Troop #107, and about volunteer opportunities within the Naperville Park District here, Volunteer With Naperville Park District.