Here on the ground of the Science Museum of Long Island, the grounds are generously kept up by volunteers, and occasionally the staff. Occasionally there are projects that are beyond and call for special young men, Eagle Scouts. These ambitious young men must complete a plethora of requirements in order to become an actual Eagle Scout. These seven requirements can be read here, Scouting.org. and are demanding of anyone attempting to become an Eagle Scout.
Besides earning 21 merit badges or serving as a Life Scout for at least six months, these scouts must, "While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project must benefit an organization other than the Boy Scouts of America.) A project proposal must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your Scoutmaster and unit committee, and the council or district before you start. You must use the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook, BSA publication No. 512-927, in meeting this requirement." Here at SMLI, we've had a many scouts complete this part of the 7-step process of becoming an Eagle Scout. This post will introduce you to a few of them.
Tobin Fanning-Hughes started out as a camper at SMLI for 6 years. He loved his time here and wanted to give back in any way that he could. Even before his eagle scout project, his first volunteer effort for the museum was starting a garden on the unused plot of land by the visitor parking lot. After proposing the project and getting approval by SMLI, he created the beginnings of what is now part of the Plant a Row for the Hungry gardens, who took over the project later on. He did this as a 6th grader!
Tobin at the finished pit, helping lead the log pull and all who came to help.
Years later, when it came time to start his eagle project, he thought of SMLI again, wanting to give back to a place that he says has given him so much over the years. He wanted to help out the museum as much as he could, and originally saw the animal enclosures as an area that could benefit most from his project. The project fell through during the proposal stage to the Scout Counsel, so he instead focused on another area of need: the campsite. With help from all of Troop 7 and his troop leader Andy John, Tobin led the efforts to clear up the area, build a new picnic table, clear out the old, rotten logs, and replace them with freshly cut and sanded log benches. Finally, he built a beautiful stone firepit after removing the old, worn out pit.
James J. D’Angelo of Manhasset Troop 97 chose the Science Museum of Long Island as his Eagle Scout Project beneficiary. Their mission is to encourage children’s natural interest in science by providing opportunities for them to be actively involved in scientific discovery, investigation, and hands-on learning. While growing up, James attended many of their classes and summer camps starting as early as Preschool. He has very fond memories of his time at the museum and wanted to be able to give back. The museum identified the restoration and preservation of their Gaga pits as a need. The Gaga pits are an immensely popular recreational element and attraction for the children who attend these programs.
James J. D’Angelo and his volunteers, along with the finished Gaga pit.
James planned out the project which involved surveying the pits, replacing and/or fixing any broken planks, digging out the boards, thoroughly cleaning them, and then finally staining them with an environmentally friendly preserver. In addition to the planning, fundraising, and execution of a project, an Eagle Scout candidate must demonstrate leadership which includes directing volunteers, communicating to them what needs to be done, ensuring tasks are age appropriate, supplying them with materials, and monitoring everyone to make sure they are doing their jobs safely and effectively. James had the additional challenge of implementing a COVID-safety protocol during this time as well. Many Boy Scouts from both Manhasset Troops 97 and 71 assisted in this project as did friends and neighbors. Their successful efforts will add longevity to the Gaga pits. In addition to the supplies purchased for the project, James used the monies from his fundraising efforts to provide the museum with a mobile storage container for their field equipment and donated the remainder of the funds to the museum.
Brian Liang, also from Troop 97, created a plan for an outdoor classroom space for the Science Museum of Long Island. He came to SMLI with around 25 people with the goal of creating a multi-use space that could be used by anyone who visited the grounds or by any of the teaching staff. These picnic tables are a welcomed addition to a nice and quiet spot on the grounds of the museum that anyone can use.
Brian, the finished tables and the helpers he had to complete his work.
To raise the money sold water bottles and once the money was raised, he had the tables delivered... in pieces. Requiring the proper tools and plans, he built the tables with his family, and other volunteers. To ensure that the tables last longer than bare wood, he and his help painted and weatherproofed all five tables, and generously offered to upkeep the tables as they need it in the future (a “warranty!”) They added benches to the area for classroom use!!
There will be other, upcoming Eagle Scout projects that will help continue to make the grounds of SMLI look even better. A young man named Peter will be removing the fence around the weather station before moving it to a new home. This home will have a concrete pad to sit on and help keep it firmly anchored to the ground. A different Brian will be creating new trail signs to help our guests find their way around the trails and a young hopeful Eagle scout named Nicholas will be doing heavy-duty trail maintenance as well as addressing some of the overgrowth that has happen on and along the ruins of the old farmhouse (that is in the woods next to one of the trails.
If you know of any potential Eagle Scouts who are looking for a place to do their project, please have them reach out to the Museum's Director of Education, Caitlin Orellana at 516-627-9400 ext. 10 or COrellana@smli.org.
There's always a way to help if you're a hopeful Eagle Scout.