Eagle Scout project provides outside seating at the Greene Center

Suzette Lowe

The Greene Center in Kenna has been the fortunate recipient of several Eagle Scout projects in the last few years.

In the past, Eagle Scout candidates have replaced four classrooms, the office area, restrooms, the hallway and outside the building with LED lights. Another project saw a Scout painting a long hallway, along with all the doors and trim.

The Greene Center, located in Kenna, is the site of many Jackson County events.

“This has been a tremendous benefit,” said Ann Greene Parsons, president of the Southern Jackson Foundation which manages the center. “Replacing the old mercury lights has given us both additional light and less expense. Sprucing up the hallway which is attached to classrooms has made everything feel fresh and new.”

When the most recent Eagle Scout candidate, Jacob Torres, approached Parsons about the needs at the center, they both came up with the same idea. Outside seating was something that wasn’t available, so Jacob offered to build benches.

Knowing supplies would be the biggest financial hurdle, Jacob approached Carter Lumber in Ripley hoping that a portion of what was needed would be donated.

“They jumped right on the project,” he said. “And they donated all the materials. I didn’t expect that, but I sure appreciated it.”

To find the guidance for his project, the young Scout did not have to look far. His grandfather, Gilbert Martin, is a woodworker. They joined together to create the six benches that were the goal of his project.

“Working with my Papaw Gil was one of the best parts of the whole process,” Jacob said. “I’d never done woodworking before. I don’t think it’s my thing, honestly, but it was fun working with him.”

Using blueprints found online, they shortened two-by-four boards and screwed them together to make an extremely sturdy bench. When it came time to put the final coat of stain, Jacob enlisted the help of his fellow Troop 419 Scouts.

Parsons said it was a highly organized project.

“He brought me the diagrams and measured to make sure where all the benches would go,” she said. “I was very impressed with his planning process. He’s told me they should be weather-proof, but we might want to re-stain every few years.”

Jacob Torres and Ann Greene Parsons enjoy the one of six benches he built as his Eagle Scout project.

The Greene Center is one of the most well-used facilities in Jackson County. Parsons said these benches will provide much needed outdoor seating.

“We have such large groups that come to our auctions, farmers market and so many other events,” she said. “We’ve never been able to afford to tackle that issue. These benches that Jacob made are high quality and you can tell many hours of work went into them.”

Jacob said he started the project mid-September 2020 and finished in November.

“With the weather and COVID, I wasn’t able to present them until now,” he said. “So, we chose to wait until the weather was nicer.”

Making practical decisions, following through with projects and being a leader is what scouting is all about according to Jacob.

“Scouting has taught me a lot of things,” he said. “I’ve learned survival skills, first aid, leadership skills, how to get along with others. Plus, I’ve gotten to do a lot of outdoor things which is what I love to do.”

Parsons chimed in with something else Jacob has learned.

“He’s learned volunteering skills,” she said with a smile. “And we’re the better for it.”

Jacob, the son of Adam and Melissa Torres of Kenna, said he plans to stay in scouting.

“You can continue to earn merit badges as an Eagle Scout,” he said. “I’ve been in scouting for about 10 years now. I would love to eventually go to a high adventure camp or the jamboree in Fayette County.”

His mother said she is particularly proud of her son in the timing of his Eagle Scout accomplishment.

“Many candidates wait till they’re almost 18 years old to try for Eagle,” she said. “Jacob is only 16 so he’s way ahead of the game. And he accomplished all of this while being on the football team and the marching band at Ripley High.”

Once his Eagle Scout project is recorded on the national level, the family and troop leaders, Jason Kay and Tim Bailey, will host a ceremony honoring his rank.

As for future plans, Jacob wants to continue to work outside, using skills he’s learned in scouting.

“I want to be either a game warden or a park ranger,” he said.