News: Eagle Scout candidate restores MCLB Albany nature trail
Story by Nathan Hanks
ALBANY, Ga. -- A 17-year old Albany teen working toward the rank of Eagle Scout led a restoration project of a nature trail aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Feb. 4.
Jared R. Gillan chose the nature trail between Building 3500 and Maintenance Center Albany for his community leadership project, a requirement to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. He is a member of Boy Scout Troop 3 of Albany, Ga., led by Scoutmaster Mike Johnson.
Jared, a Life Scout and a senior at Lee County High School, discussed several project ideas with his father, Daniel Gillan, a retired Marine Corps colonel. After numerous conversations, a project aboard MCLB Albany was recommended.
“I wanted to do something different from the other Boy Scouts,” he said. “When I heard about the nature trail, I jumped on it because I thought it would be an awesome idea.”
In July 2011, Jared and his mother, Andrea Gillan, met with Al Belanger, game warden, MCLB Albany, and toured the nature trail.
“Service is a key part of scouting,” Belanger said. “The restoration project gives Jared the opportunity to demonstrate and enhance his leadership skills while performing a project that will benefit the base community. This is a great opportunity for MCLB Albany and the Boy Scouts to work together and make a positive impact on the base’s conservation efforts.”
Jared, who started as a Tiger Cub Scout in 1999 and has been a Boy Scout since 2005, said the nature trail was in poor condition.
“The trail needed a lot of cleaning up to be made safe for Marines and civilian-Marines to use,” Jared said. “There were a lot of fallen trees and limbs on the path. It was not a place where I would walk or run if I worked here.”
More than 40 volunteers arrived at the base to help Jared, who then led the them to the nature trail’s entrance where he conducted a detailed safety brief. He divided them up into teams and gave them specific tasks.
One team marked the two trails by spray painting scarlet and gold triangles on certain trees to identify each path. The other team, Boy Scout Troop 1, raked, shoveled and removed debris off the trail from a recent tree harvest.
Johnson used a chainsaw to cut down rotted trees previously marked by Jared. The scouts dragged the trees into the nearby woods away from the trail. In addition, the sign at the entrance of trail was disassembled, washed and reassembled with the correct parts.
Daniel said most scouts ask for donations to complete their projects. Instead of raising money for supplies, Jared saved his weekly allowance and purchased the items including $26 for paint and $73 for hardware, material and cleaning supplies. Jared, with help from his mom and dad, also provided $250 for lunch, which included sub sandwiches, drinks and a dessert.
At the end of the day, Jared and his father hung an arrow shaped sign bearing his name, troop and month and year the project was completed below the main sign at the trail’s entrance.
“I feel proud and honored to be able to provide a place where Marines and civilian-Marines can walk or run,” he said. “The men and women here work hard every day to make sure we have a safe place to live. They are out there every day fighting for us. I just wanted to give something back, repay them for protecting me.”
Although the nature trail is now finished, Jared is not an Eagle Scout, yet. He still has to finish a write-up for the project, complete one merit badge and must pass a review board before he will be eligible.
The Eagle Leadership Service Project is the ultimate test of a scout’s leadership, according to Scoutmaster Johnson.
“What we hope Jared will gain is knowledge in planning, organizing and completing his project,” he said. “After he completes the project, he was to write a report analyzing the success of the project, changes that took place during the project and things he would have done differently. This is a tremendous step in his leadership.”
Jared is scheduled to be Troop 3’s 150th Eagle Scout, Johnson added.
“To say that I am proud or to say I am thrilled with Jared does not illustrate the sense of pride I feel for his achievement,” his father said. “It’s been amazing to see Jared mature and suddenly realize that he can really accomplish what at first seemed like an impossible task. Andrea and I are happy to see him realize the importance of service to others.”