An Eagle Scout project has become a way to share inspiration as well as information.
Jack Drew, a senior at Laramie High School, coordinated the construction of two informational kiosks at entrances to the Pilot Hill Recreation Area on the east side of the city of Laramie to fulfill one of the requirements of the rank of Eagle Scout.
Drew, a member of St. Mathews Episcopal Church, Troop 137, was honored for his Eagle Scout achievement at a ceremony in October. The rank of Eagle Scout is achieved by only 6% of all members of Scouts BSA, formerly the Boy Scouts of America.
To reach this rank, a Scout must earn 21 merit badges, demonstrate a leadership role in scouting and complete a community service project.
Drew’s project, the kiosks, each hold a trail map, information on the Pilot Hill Wildlife Management Area, posters from community groups and free bags for dog walkers. One is located at the end of East Willett Drive, the other at the end of East Crow Drive on the east side of Laramie.
“Pilot Hill is unique in that it is an area that was just opened to our community two years ago. We were in the process of developing phase one of a three-phase project, which included developing a trailhead for the property,” said Sarah Brown Mathews, Pilot Hill’s executive director.
“Without that primary trailhead — it truly is our backyard here in Laramie — users were accessing the property from a variety of locations, just from city streets, and we needed a way to help users get acclimated and oriented to the property and to the trail system,” she said.
Not only did the project help trail users, Brown Mathews said, Drew’s work has inspired others to volunteer their time.
“This project is successful because we’ve had so many in the community come forward and say, ‘I’d like to contribute in some way.’ We’ve had groups who have been removing barbed wire fencing, which is a hazard to the property, and Scout troops come out and adopt projects. So Jack is modeling a really wonderful bit of Laramie’s culture, and with the success of this project, so many people have come forward and said, ‘I’d like to raise my hand to contribute, is there some way to do it?’” Brown Mathews said.
Drew coordinated the design and construction of two 16-foot plywood and cedar structures. The structures stand 8 feet high, with posts sunk 4 feet into the ground. Part of the project was researching what materials to use, to withstand the wind and stay up for a long time, Drew said.
“He was really understanding and diligent about the impact of weather, designing the kiosks so they would have long-term use for us,” Brown Mathews said.
The project began in the spring of 2021 and many of the plans for the project were developed that summer. The completed project was dedicated in November of 2021. Drew estimated that he spent 184 hours on the project.
“The planning actually took a lot longer than we expected. There were a lot of different things that the Pilot Hill council wanted, like it had to be under a certain price,” Drew said.
The design needed approval from the Pilot Hill board, the city of Laramie and the University of Wyoming.
Wood for one of the kiosks was donated by Bloedoern Lumber in Laramie, which also supplied the materials for the other at cost, Drew said. Drew also asked other hardware stores for “Eagle Project” discounts on other materials.
“I worked with Willie Caldwell at Bloedoern’s and he said he would offer to donate the materials,” Drew said. “Then, I had to tell them there were actually two kiosks. That’s when they said they would donate one and provide the other at cost.”
Though the planning took longer than he expected, actual construction went very quickly, Drew said.
“We had a set date for when we wanted to do it. A few weeks before that I just asked if anyone wanted to help; it counts as service hours so it is a good way for Boy Scouts to get some of their hours marked off in their books, also it was nice because I had a few of my friends, not even in Scouts, who just came up and helped,” Drew said.
Once he made the commitment to the project, he never doubted that it would be completed, he said.
Scouting is divided into ranks, based on achievements and experiences. The highest three are Star, Life and Eagle, Drew explained.
“There is a phrase, something my troop leader tried to say, ‘If you quit while you’re a Life Scout you’ll regret it for life.’ I was too close to just give up,” he said.
Throughout the process, Drew said, family, community members and his fellow Scouts kept him moving forward.
“I had so much support throughout. I definitely did not get here on my own at all. I had so much support. I would not have made if it were not for the people who helped me out. My troop leaders, my parents, the people who helped with my project and everything, I could not have done it without all their help,” Drew said.
Drew plans to attend the University of Wyoming with a major in history, and a career goal in film production.