Vail Daily column: Eagle Scout project benefits community |

Vail Daily column: Eagle Scout project benefits community

Peter Suneson
Valley Voices

During the spring of 2014, Walking Mountains Science Center was approached by an apprehensive yet studious and obviously industrious young man. Max Phannenstiehl, from Boy Scout Troop 231 in Edwards, was looking for an Eagle Scout project. Fast forward to March 2015. Max had spent the previous year researching designs for an outdoor natural playground, receiving approval on a troop and district levels and beginning to research potential donors that would support his efforts.

I first met Max at the end of a long school day when he had the opportunity to drop by Walking Mountains and present me with a rough outline for his project. As an Eagle Scout myself, and after having served as coordinator on Eagle Scout projects throughout my career at various nature centers, I was immediately impressed at the level of planning and professionalism Max brought to our initial meeting to get the project off the ground. Max is the first scout from the newly revitalized Troop 231 to go through the Eagle Scout project process. After some initial uncertainty, I knew this guy would serve well as the first Eagle Scout from Troop 231.

Max reached out to Top Notch Log Works, Ceres Landscaping, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Colorado Fasteners and Domino’s (for lunch, of course) and relied on up to 45 volunteers from his troop and family. In regards to those who helped him, Max said, “I couldn’t have finished or even started this without everyone. I can’t thank my kindhearted and generous peers, volunteers, and most of all donors for all their contributions and supportive action in this project.”

The results of Max’s project reflect not only the hard work that took place on our campus, but also the diligent coordination and generosity of our community. Walking Mountains Science Center’s new nature play area is a sight to behold! From lodgepole balance beams to human-sized bird’s nests, Max’s project matches our mission to awaken a sense of wonder by providing children of all ages an opportunity to play with natural elements in gorgeous surroundings. All of us at Walking Mountains Science Center thank Max, his parents and his troop for joining us in our mission to awaken a sense of wonder and inspire environmental stewardship and sustainability through natural science education.

We hope to see you with your kids enjoying the new playground sometime soon!

Peter Suneson is the adult programs instructor at Walking Mountains Science Center.

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