During Dalton High School senior Rafael Duchesne's search for the perfect Eagle Scout project, the Dalton Education Foundation awarded a grant to a fourth grade teacher at Roan School, Margaret Kolbas, to create an outdoor nature learning area. It was the perfect fit.
Kolbas explained she hoped for a place for students to get outdoors when she wrote the grant, awarded in May. "I wanted to create a place for students to observe nature," she said. "In the spring, students can wade and observe turtles, fish, etc. I hope giving them this opportunity will help them appreciate nature more and learn to better take care of it."
Duchesne was excited about the chance to provide a creek observation area, as he has fond memories of observing nature at Brookwood's koi pond and outside laboratory when he was a student there. He hopes this will allow students at Roan to have similar learning experiences.
Although Kolbas had the general idea for the area, Duchesne was free to get creative with the design and the process. Originally the plan only included building steps down to the creek, but Duchesne and his team decided to lay down mulch and build several benches. The final result is a viewing area from which students can sit and listen to their teacher or see things in the creek below. They can also go down and get their feet wet.
"My Scout leader encouraged us to build something we could see still being used in 10-20 years; I definitely think we accomplished that," said Duchesne. "I think this will be here for years to come for the students to enjoy."
When Duchesne was ready to unveil the project to Mrs. Kolbas's class, he talked to the students about what it means to be in Scouts and all the work that went into his project. The students listened attentively and asked questions like "do you like being a Boy Scout?"
"It is one of the most fun things you can do! I joined out of a need for adventure, to help my community and to become a better person," he told them. "I encourage you all to have your own Scouting experiences by joining your local troop."
Through the process, Duchesne learned to make railroad tile stairs and contention walls, level the land and build benches. But further, he gained leadership and teamwork skills and how to find and fill a need. All the project lacks is adding a sign to the area that says who built it.
Duchesne thanks and gives credit to all those who helped him make the project happen, including his Troop Masters Jim Shaheen and Doug Jones, Troop 2 members, Mr. Greg Batts, fellow scouts Tyler Kniss, Matthew Newby, Luis Garcia, and Eduardo Ruiz, and his parents. He also thanks Mrs. Kolbas for her trust in him to bring the project to life and her guidance through it.
Photos from the construction process below: