Creating a garden to give high school students a place to learn self-sufficiency seemed like an apt choice for an Eagle Scout project for Kevin Palacino in 2019, when he was 13. His high school, SS Seward, planned to educate students about self- sufficiency and farming, offering botany and other classes for that purpose. So Kevin designed and constructed what he called the “Garden of Giving,” as a “healing garden.”
His design included stone planting beds with an aluminum pergola, 36 x 24 feet, at 51 North Main Street, behind the school in Florida, NY. He envisions community benefit from both recreational gardening and food production for the local food pantry. Kevin’s project took nearly 2,000 hours during the height of Covid restrictions, his father noted.
“The Eagle Scout journey is one of hard work, perseverance and service,” said Kevin Palacino, Sr.
Required merit badges for Eagle Scout rank include First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Nation and World; Communications, Cooking, Personal Fitness, Lifesaving, Environmental Science and Personal Management.
In addition to these required badges, scouts are encouraged to participate in other merit badges that interest. During their scouting career, scouts design and conduct several community service projects culminating in their Eagle Scout project, which involves hundreds of hours of planning and executing an improvement to a community entity.
Kevin Palacino, Jr. earned his Eagle scout rank on August 4, 2021, but he unveiled his Eagle Scout project to the school in January 2021. He decided to wait until the Greater Hudson Valley had in person Eagle boards for that step in the process. He wanted to have the experience of meeting people and telling them his scouting story, his father said.
When Kevin went before the board, he was asked, “What did you learn from your Eagle Scout project?”
“Working on my Eagle Scout project taught me important life lessons,” he responded. “First, when you commit and give your word, do everything possible to keep your commitment. Work hard and your credibility will be flawless. Second is never underestimate yourself. All of us have talents and abilities to offer. If you underestimate yourself, you limit yourself and find no reason to have goals in life. You can always find a way to make things happen. Third is to put honor in your hard work and give respect and trust to the people you work with. Lastly, be an effective part of a team. Value your team and lead by example.”
Kevin’s next goal is to graduate from SS Seward. Then, in the next 10 years, he said, “I would like to have a successful career with good pay, a decent house and eventually a family. Sounds like the American dream, but who doesn’t want that?
“On the way to accomplishing my goals, I have to go through college. I plan on going to New York University or the University of Miami. I lean toward a health-related major in nursing, and then possibly becoming a nurse practitioner.
“I also want to contribute to my community and help others. Later in life I want to be involved in volunteer groups like scouting or something that will help people in need, no matter how small a contribution I make. In scouting I have learned to be helpful, friendly, and trustworthy. Some of these traits have probably come from being deeply involved with community service. I find this rewarding because at the end of the day something has been accomplished for the better. Even though I am 17, I will not lose sight of what I have taken out of this great experience. I will use my scouting to leave this planet in a better place than it was when I arrived. I hope to have a great impact on my family, on my society, and the people around me.”