Niwot’s Left Hand Grange No. 9 (195 2nd Ave.) has been a community gathering spot for more than seven decades, and now it’s just a little more welcoming, thanks to Brandon Hult and the Boy Scouts of Niwot Troop 161. Earlier this month, the Eagle Scout candidate oversaw the construction of an outdoor seating area in the rear yard, so patrons will be able to enjoy the hall’s many charms from a sunnier (or starrier) vantage point.
“Members of the grange just wanted this area cleaned up a little bit, so we talked, and then came up with the idea of a flagstone patio and picnic table,” the Niwot High junior said. “The grange had a couple of projects in mind for Eagle projects, and I was the first one to talk about this one with them.”
Completing a large-scale service project is one of the last hurdles Hult has to clear before earning BSA’s highest honor, the Eagle Scout Award. To fulfill the requirement, the scout has to lead each phase of the undertaking and it must benefit an organization other than the BSA. For Hult, this meant not just planning and designing the 10’ x 10’ patio, but also scheduling, procuring materials, and recruiting a reliable team of volunteers. Fortunately, he had one at the ready, made up of his fellow Troop 161 members.
Hult also had to earn at least 21 merit badges as he made his way up the rankings, in addition to all the other badges that requires. As a final step, he will have to undergo a BSA board review, a process that sounds a bit like defending a doctoral thesis. “I have to go in front of five or six people, and they’ll question me and go through all my scouting skills and what I’ve learned.”
Hult will receive the award in a formal ceremony next spring, where he will be in good company. The older Niwot scouts have been hard at work in 2019, and the 2020 convocation of Eagles will be bursting at the seams.
Spring was especially busy for Troop 161. In March, Niwot junior Evan Law led an effort to spruce up the Grange kitchen, with the installation of new beadboard and a fresh coat of paint. Each troop member who assisted with this project inscribed his name behind the board, hoping to leave a curious find for a future remodeler.
In April, Niwot junior Jesse Horn worked with The Inn Between of Longmont to build raised garden beds to use for growing vegetables. The Inn provides transitional housing and support services to aid homeless individuals and families, and the gardens are an important addition to those efforts. Horn was even able to provide starter plants to the residents, courtesy of Growing Gardens.
Niwot sophomore Raaghav Agarwal completed his Eagle project on May 11. A pilot-in-training, Agarwal planned the repair, replacement and painting of the red and white “dog houses” used as navigation aids at the Longmont Airport.
Then, in June, Ben Jones and the troop repaired the batting cage and painted the storage shed at Niwot Youth Sports’ Biff Warren Baseball Complex. On Aug. 24, Silver Creek junior Cade Weihe will lead a team in fabricating hammocks from used fire hoses for the inhabitants of The Wildlife Sanctuary.
“We’ve been a particularly strong class,” Hult said of the Troop 161’s numerous Eagle Scout candidates. “We’re all pretty close, and we’ve all advanced at the same rate, and right now we’ve been getting our Eagle projects done around the same time, which is awesome. We’re hoping we can get as many Eagles out of the younger generations coming up as we have right now.”
In addition to supporting Eagle projects, troop members have also been busy this year assisting other community organizations and events, including the TLC Learning Center and the Niwot Community Association.
Niwot Boy Scout Troop 161 is slated to receive the proceeds from the Rock & Rails tip jars on Thursday, Aug. 22. Funds raised there will help the troop offset costs related to scout camp, campground registration fees, and Court of Honor expenses.