Aspiring Eagle Scout Brett Brown is employing dozens of eager hands to tackle half-an-acre of uncomely dirt outside Kenai Central High School.
Effects of the project range from short-term community beautification to the acquisition of long-term life skills.
Brown said he was immediately drawn to rehabilitating the small plot between the school and Lawton Drive, and was confident he had the expertise to pull off the improvements.
“I was dedicated to this project so easily because it is land I knew and I loved,” Brown said. “I have grown up in Kenai my whole life. I have been going to Kenai Central (High School) for three years and I love it.”
Simply put, Brown wanted to give back. At the same time, he said, he is learning to organize a group of people to accomplish a large-scale task, help out his neighborhood and inch closer to his Eagle Scout rank, which is “quite an award in itself.”
Had Brown moved forward with the project alone, it would have taken months to accomplish, he said.
With donations from businesses, including trees from Home Depot and grass seeds from City of Kenai Parks and Recreation Director Bob Frates, not to mention the volunteers that include his mother and grandmother, who have been out to help him move and flatten dirt every day, the project will be finished by the time school starts, he said.
Brown’s Eagle Scout troop leader Brandon Cox describes his scout as a hard worker, “polite to a fault,” open to suggestions and easy to lead.
“It is coming along really nicely,” Cox said, standing beside a patch of raked soil. “This spot has needed it for quite some time.”
The project will improve visibility for a highly-used roadway students frequently travel across, in addition to creating a more pleasing look, Cox said.
Mayor Pat Porter made the initial suggestion to clean up the area.
She said she keeps an eye on pockets of the community that may need a little assistance, and tries to pair up projects with the right set of hands.
A few years ago she matched Brown’s brother, Tyler Brown with the task to paint the fence around the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Church in Old Town Kenai.
Porter, who substitute teaches at Kenai Central, admits she takes some ownership of the school’s appearance, and has encouraged other beautification projects around the building. She called Brown’s project the “missing piece.”
“It makes kids more proud to be a graduate,” Porter said.
Project’s like Brown’s facilitate a greater sense of pride in the community when people see their city looks good. When so many people jump in to help a youth’s project it also acknowledges a positive impact is being made.
“It is just a testament to how people will help make that work for them,” Porter said.
Brown said he hopes people notice two things when they drive by the finished product, set with new vegetation and landscaping.
“First off — it looks so much better than it did before,” Brown said.
“A group of determined people, a bunch of teenagers were able to get this done in a couple weeks just because they had their mind set on helping each other and helping out their community.”