SIDNEY — When Jackson Watkins, of Sidney, was presented with the Boy Scout Eagle award last summer, he became the third member of his family to be so honored.
His older brothers, David and Taylor, are Eagle Scouts, too.
All were members of Troop No. 95, “the best Scout troop in Sidney,” Jackson said, with a smile.
“Each of these young men had a strong desire to achieve this coveted goal,” said their mother, Julie. “David cites that many potential employers comment on his resume when they see he is an Eagle Scout. Taylor states that the first item in his wallet is his Eagle Card. When it came time for Jackson to start progress on his Eagle project, he was working 35 hours a week at a local fast food business, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him. He couldn’t let both his brothers achieve their Eagle Award and him fall short of the goal.”
To earn scouting’s highest designation, Jackson constructed five wooden benches for placement along the Sidney City Parks Canal Feeder Trail. He completed outfitting the trail with benches, a project that had been started by Taylor.
“I took some things from Taylor, but I tried not to look at his plans. I tried to do it on my own,” Watkins said.
He worked through the summer of 2014 and the benches were put into place in September of that year. It then took Watkins almost a year to complete the paperwork required to document the project for submission to Boy Scouts of America. That’s why he didn’t have his Eagle ceremony until the following summer.
To raise money for the project, Watkins, a former Sidney Daily News paper carrier, approached businesses on his old paper route and asked for donations. He raised $325. He used the money to purchase treated wood for the benches.
He got construction help from his father, Rich, and fellow scouts assisted with placement.
“When we had to dig the holes and concrete the posts, it was just my dad and me. The scouts helped with mulching the most. We had to dig around the benches to put in mulch that the city provided,” Watkins said.
He built the benches in his garage, giving 52 hours to the project. Working with wood wasn’t new to the teen.
“I used to do carpentry in 4-H,” he said.
The total time donated by all who participated was 113 hours. Watkins grew to respect his troop leaders for the effort they put into organizing everything.
“It was a bit stressful balancing school and getting the project done before winter. It was fun working with everyone. Having it finished was the most fun part,” he said.
A 2015 graduate of Lehman Catholic High School, Watkins is now a freshman at Miami University, majoring in international studies.
“I still try to be active in Scouts,” he said. “I’m an assistant scout master of Troop 95.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.