NORTH COUNTY — Up and down El Camino Real from Santa Margarita to Paso Robles, locals may notice mini-projects being erected throughout the year.
There are at least 62 Eagle Scout projects in progress locally certified by the Los Padres Council Boy Scouts of America program. Every few weeks the Atascadero News and the Paso Robles has heard from one of the young folks completing a project just ahead of their graduating the program, and often leaving high school for college.
No data is available in the stacks, but considering that the Scouts are celebrating 100 years on the Central Coast, the trend has probably been going on for about as long as the newspapers been in business.
On Friday, Aug. 30, 17-year-old Eagle Scout Joe Cooper, his father Dan, a young friend returned home on leave from the Marine Corps Tyler Dayton, and an experienced carpenter, Gary Dayton were out at the Senior Citizens Center at 5905 East Mall in Atascadero installing a professionally constructed sign that will be visible from the street, and around the oaks.
The younger Cooper is preparing to turn in his certifications with 25 more than the requisite number of merit badges come Jan. 2020 with UC Davis and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on his shortlist of engineering schools to attend after graduation.
His father, in contacting the paper said he just wanted to highlight that there are young people trying to do something positive in the community, “I work at the prison [California Men’s Colony] and I see so much negativity. Seeing Joe out here doing this just shows something for all the kids out there doing right by their neighbors.”
Carey Rogers, president of the nonprofit organization that runs the center, said the concept for the project had passed through several sets of hands, but it was the Coopers who were able to rally more than 15 volunteers and cash in the use permit with the City of Atascadero with equipment and materials donated by local businesses. She was grateful for their efforts as the center sometimes proved hard to locate for would-be visitors cruising by.
Lou Ann McKinley of the Los Padres Boyscouts Council noted that there are strict rules about what kind of support the scouts are allowed to seek, with the internet-based crowdfunding options off limits to youth who are supposed to be learning project management skills.
Troops 51 and 60 being the largest individual groups in the territory, locals may recognize recent projects at the Templeton Community Gardens, VFW Reflection Garden, paths at the Pioneer Museum and others centered on the installation of memorial benches or features for returning Monarch Butterflies.
Joe Cooper noted that it was a long process, with his hands on the project since May of 2019, but all the real learning went on through his years of scout preparation and he was happy to see the project come together at the last as concrete was poured in to set the post holes.