When Hubbard Boy Scout Jordan Williamson began looking into what community service project he wanted to pursue to complete his Eagle Scout badge, his initial instinct was to go with what he loves.
The 16-year old Life Scout of Canby Troop 258 is an avid bicycle rider, and bandied about several ideas — a mini-BMX park to share with like-minded kids, a goodwill shipment of bikes to Africa — but the size and scope of the ideas were a bit beyond his abilities.
Then he had an idea. His grandfather, Robert Cotter, had recently relocated from his home in Grants Pass to French Prairie Nursing and Rehab in Woodburn. What if his community service project could benefit both his grandfather and the residents?
"My grandpa got put into assisted living, and he likes looking outside, watching the birds and stuff like that," Williamson said.
Cotter had moved to Woodburn about a year ago to be closer to his family up the road on 99E. In his visits to French Prairie, Williamson noticed that the raised flower boxes outside the residence were quite old and in disrepair. While Cotter is not much of a gardener himself, Williamson knew his grandfather would appreciate seeing refurbished planting beds, so he drew up plans, gathered his younger brother Joshua and some friends, and got to work.
"Their flowerboxes were all rotted out," Williamson said. "That's what brought to my attention. I just took what they had and made it a little bit nicer."
Over the course of the next several weeks, Williamson worked as a sort of foreman for his crew, which consisted of his 12-year old brother — also a member of Troop 258 — and friends Shawn Ostrander and Jameson Guido.
Under Williamson's guidance, the quartet gathered the supplies; built, sanded and painted four new planter boxes, and delivered them to French Prairie for Cotter and the residents. It was a considerable project, but one that Williamson was able to handle with a bit of planning.
"We did a lot of looking around for used wood to try to recycle some stuff, but most of the wood was donated from Home Depot," Williamson said. His parents helped donate the rest of the supplies needed, and Williamson and his crew worked after school in his parents' shop over the course of two weeks building the beds.
"I like hanging out in the shop and working on stuff," Williamson said. "We've built a few woodworking projects, and I've taken a few classes (at North Marion High School). I've taken the intro classes and now I'm taking the woodworking class."
Williamson's property sits on the east side of Highway 99E with a large workshop barn where he spends a lot of his time working with his hands. He envisions a future working with wood or machines, making the Eagle Scout project a natural choice.
"That's what I'm hoping for," Williamson said about his future career path. "And if not, then something like a diesel mechanic, because I like motors too. My dad's taught me a lot of stuff when it comes to hands on."
Cotter is wheelchair bound, as are other residents at French Prairie, so Williamson wanted to make sure that some of the boxes were accessible while sitting down. After approximately 20 hours of work and several hundred dollars in supplies, the four boys transported the two-tone boxes to Woodburn and presented them to Cotter and the residents.
"We put all the soil in for them," Williamson said. "We also put plastic inside the boxes so it wouldn't rot too quick."
Some of the boxes they planted themselves for Cotter, putting flowers and strawberries transplanted from the old box they replaced. Other boxes they filled with soil, and residents did the rest.
"They use it at therapy," Williamson's mother Martha said. "There's a lot of folks there who used to garden. So he's trying to get them outdoors and doing what they love."
Williamson still has a few things to check off his list before he officially becomes an Eagle Scout, and a few more years down the line, his brother will be next in line. Though as an intro-level Scout, Joshua still has a ways to go.
"I'm not thinking about Eagle Scout projects," Joshua said.
"Some people have it planned," Williamson said, "(but) Nobody really knows until they get there."
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