Jackson County Eagle Scout helps make the Greene Center safer

Suzette Lowe
Special to Jackson Newspapers

Scouting is a family affair for the newest Eagle Scout from Jackson County.

“Both my dad and my uncle were Scouts,” David McCormick said.

The 17-year-old Ripley High School senior broke family tradition this past December.

“I’m the first in my family to ever achieve Eagle Scout,” he said with pride. “The fact that I’d be able to accomplish a ‘first-ever’ in my family was one of the driving factors for me.”

When it came time to submit his idea for his Eagle project, McCormick did not have to look far.

“Growing up in Kenna, I have a real connection to the Greene Center,” he said. “I went to school there when it was Kenna Elementary, so it’s been part of my life for a long time. Now I come to events here.”

One evening as he was leaving the center, he noticed how dark the parking lot was. Realizing that it could be dangerous without good lighting, McCormick talked to Ann Greene Parsons, the director of the facility.

Eagle Scout David McCormick has added lighting to the Greene Center’s front entry.

“My idea of lighting at the door and the parking lot evolved, at Anne’s request, to the outside of the entire building,” McCormick said.

Troop 419 holds a special place in Parsons’ heart. The troop has made a lot of improvements at the center.

Parsons said she remembered well the troop coming out to help with the first clean-up day.

“They cut trees, shrubs, pretty much anything that was needed,” she said.

McCormick is very proud of Troop 419. All but one of the current members has attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

“The last one is working towards his,” McCormick said. “I have no doubt that he’ll be successful. When he does, my troop will have ‘Eagled out.’ Few troops have that honor which is really the result of work ethic and pride in Scouting.”

McCormick’s own work ethic stems from his parents, Josh and Regina McCormick.

“To put it simply, they’ve taught me that ‘If you don’t work, you don’t get,’” he said with a smile. “Scouting teaches that too.”

McCormick is the first to admit that he did not take to Scouting right off the bat. He was 6 years old when he joined as a cubby. Not being a social child, the first meetings were a little uncomfortable.

“My Scout leaders grabbed my interest with activities,” he said. “I had to adjust and interact with the others to take part. It wasn’t forced on me, but it was expected. Now, I don’t have any problem talking to people. Scouting can change your life in unexpected ways.”

His close-knit group has had some interesting experiences in the past few years.

One of the requirements for a camping badge is to winter camp. The challenge is to be ready when snow is on the ground. McCormick said that made it hard to plan.

“One thing we learned for heat is to change your clothes right before going to bed and then immediately when you wake up,” he said.

At a camping experience at Camp Arrowhead, McCormick learned that a lodge doesn’t always mean even the basics.

“You’d think there would be heat, but no,” he recalled. “There were no lights but there were squirrels. We slept on the concrete floor in our sleeping bags.”

He and fellow Scout, Jacob Torres, took classes to be first aid administrators.

“In wilderness first aid, you train how to keep a situation from getting worse until you can get help,” he said. “That’s a pretty valuable lesson.”

One assignment McCormick was always given came as a surprise.

“I don’t know why but I always ended up with breakfast duty,” he said. “I became the expert at hash browns, sausage, eggs or pancakes.”

Scouting teaches many things but planning and preparation are two of the most important, according to McCormick.

This certainly applied to his Eagle Scout project. Finding the funds required requesting from family and friends. Coordinating with his Scout leader, Jason Kay, and his dad and the weather, was key to success.

David McCormick, with help from his Scoutmaster Jason Kay, changes parking lot lighting to LED lights at the Greene Center.

“We had to rent a lift to reach those parking lot lights,” McCormick said. “That was our biggest expense. It was also pretty interesting being up that high.”

Parsons said the benefit to this project is three-fold.

“Not only is it more attractive, but it’s also safer,” she said. “And the economic impact of these LED lights is tremendous. It’s saving us a lot of money.”

McCormick loves Scouting, but his greatest love is animals. He is currently a veterinary assistant at Jackson County Animal Clinic.

“I’m there as part of the co-op program through the high school,” he said. “I am getting so much experience towards my dream of being a veterinarian.”

In his words, he is ‘getting to do just about everything except surgery,’ including a lot of cleaning.

“That’s part of the job,” he said laughing. “Not a fun part, but a necessary part. My plan is to work with domestic animals, not large or exotic, except maybe snakes. I have been accepted at West Virginia University in Animal and Nutritional Science and then on to vet school. It’s kind of neat because one of the clinic’s vets started out as a co-op student.”

McCormick says earning his Eagle Scout rank has not totally sunk in yet.

“It’s still hitting me that I’ve worked 12 years for this,” he said. “I chose to have a pretty big ceremony at the Greene Center in December because I wanted to thank so many people for helping me get to this level.”

As for the future of the Greene Center and local Scouts, Troop 419 may be done but Parsons says that the connection with Scouts is not over.

“We just got a request for a Cub Scout group to begin meeting here,” she said. “Who knows what the future will hold?”