As part of his Eagle Scout project Boy Scout Dylan Franz, 16, organized more than 50 volunteers including his fellow troop members, parents and friends to remake a nature trail for the East Ridge senior living community.
Beginning in the early morning of Saturday, Dec. 15, and lasting into the afternoon, work on the project required a team effort of muscle power as the trail was cleared, leveled, mulched and readied for residents’ enjoyment.
A student at Terra Environmental Research Institute, a magnet high school in Kendall, Dylan envisioned the project, having spent time at East Ridge visiting his grandmother, Marty McLaren, who lives at the community. With a bountiful love of nature, he explored the area that is part of the East Ridge grounds but fenced from outside the main community. He recognized that as beautiful as it was, residents weren’t able to walk comfortably in the hammock or enjoy its natural habitat.
His service project included remaking the hammock trail so that seniors could walk safely within the area, constructing an entry to designate the trail entrance, creating a seating area, and building and installing a bat house within the hammock. Also, he and his dad have worked on a safety lock system that could be used to control access.
Dylan is part of Boy Scout Troop 457 Kendall United Methodist Church South Florida Council, which undertakes service projects most weekends and assists Scouts in earning Eagle Scout ranking. This year eight Scouts will become Eagle Scouts, which requires at least 21 merit badges and completing a service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads and manages.
For Dylan, who has already earned 35 merit badges, he gave much thought to finding a suitable service project.
“It was important to do something that would leave a mark,” he explained. “I want to be able to return and see people benefit from our efforts.”
Dylan worked with East Ridge’s plant operations director Jim Graziano for several months planning the project.
“Dylan really took the ball and followed through,” Graziano said.
While the volunteers were working, East Ridge resident Max Smith admired their efforts and expressed his gratitude to the Scouts and volunteers. The retired botanist had enjoyed the meditative quality found in the hammock that was lost after Hurricane Andrew, when the natural pines were destroyed.
“Restoring the hammock is going to provide us a perfect place where you can sit and contemplate,” Smith said.