Boy Scout James Young brings xeriscaping to campus

Sergio Payeras

Aiming for the highest rank possible in the Boy Scout program, junior James Young is bringing his Eagle Scout service project to campus.

“I want my project to create an environment of serenity where students can feel happy and comfortable,” Young said. “It’s a much needed effect considering the area doesn’t look too good.”

In the last few weeks, the garden area across from the student store received a makeover, an extensive effort made by Young to complete his service project in order to receive the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. This rank is given only to the most dedicated of Scouts and requires several years of service and leadership.

“It feels really accomplishing to get this far,” Young said. “Only two percent of Boy Scouts get this far.”

Young has been a Scout since he was 13 years old. He has taken part in several scouting activities, including a 50-mile backpacking trip across the Grand Canyon in which he had to carry nearly half his weight on a backpack. He has also volunteered at the Valley Food Bank, sorting and packing food for families in need.

The campus project involves xeriscaping, a form of landscaping that requires very little irrigation. Xeriscaped gardens need less maintenance, cost less and can also help reduce waste and fertilizer runoff pollution. As for the appearance, the school’s initials are spelled out in block letters made of many individual stones. Young added red wood chips and mulch.

In order to carry out his project successfully, Young needed a total of $1,300. To raise funds, he recycled, sold mistletoe at a church and held a bake sale. His friends and family also generously donated  and he received help from the school board with a $250 boost. He was only able to raise about $900 but with a free supply of 1,000 square feet of rocks, he was able to make his budget work.

Young spent a total of nine months planning, directing and coordinating his project.  The idea came from Principal Deb Smith.

“I showed him areas on campus that needed attention,” Smith said. “That particular area looked pretty gross.”

Young has dedicated many hours literally laying the foundation for his project. He has spent many Saturdays working on placing the rocks and modifying the ground around them. His efforts will not only earn him the prestigious Eagle Scout rank, but also make the school’s environment more aesthetically pleasing.

With the juniors’ service learning projects on the horizon, projects like Young’s may spark ideas in some students wanting to do community service.

“To anyone who might want to do a project like mine, be prepared to give all your effort and spend a lot of your time to make it work,” Young said.