When Farmington High School Senior Rothman Harris III noticed that there were no visitor’s maps at Engler Park, he decided that he would make it his Eagle Scout project to create three of them and give park goers some direction.
Harris has been a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 483 since he was in first grade. Over the years, he has climbed the ranks and will now achieve the highest rank, Eagle Scout.
On Oct. 27, Harris checked off his final requirement to earn the rank of Eagle Scout by completing a project designing and installing three large full-color visitor’s maps in Engler Park.
Along with his four siblings, Harris has been going to Engler Park his whole life, playing soccer and enjoying everything the park has to offer. He said he wanted to add something that he felt park visitors could really benefit from.
“I did this project because I have been coming to Engler for years and noticed that they didn’t have maps,” said Harris. “It was hard to know where the different areas were.”
One of the most valuable life skills that the Boy Scout program aims to instill in its scouts is leadership and the Eagle Scout projects are meant to put those skills to the test.
Earning the top rank of Eagle Scout requires completing community-oriented projects that demonstrate a culmination of the different skills acquired throughout a scout’s years in the program. Harris saw this opportunity as a way to help his community and the park that he's enjoyed for so long.
After deciding that bringing maps to the park was going to be his Eagle Scout project, Harris began the process mid-summer by first getting approval from his scout leader, Daniel Judd, and then bringing his idea to different city department officials for approval.
“I had to get approval from my leader, then I had a meeting with the beneficiary, which is the parks department,” Harris explained. “We sat down, talked about it, and I had a proposal that I had to fill out and give to them.
“Once I got it approved by the beneficiary, I had to get it approved the Boy Scout Council of the district. So I had to get signatures from all these people and, once I got those, then I was able to start raising money, getting donations, getting my supplies, and begin working on it.”
A stipulation in creating an Eagle Scout project is that all the required materials have to be donated. Harris received material and monetary donations from several area businesses.
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Another stipulation in creating the project was that Harris was not allowed to perform any of the physical work but instead had to rely on volunteers. The purpose of this rule is to put the scout’s leadership skills to work in a real-world project by forcing them to delegate responsibilities and bring all of the various pieces together to complete the project.
Harris said he received help from friends and fellow scouts in putting the map displays together.
“You have to find people to help you,” Harris said. “You always get your troop and my troop came out and helped me. And I had several of my friends who also came out and helped me.”
The maps have been well-received by Farmington city officials and are seen as an important addition to the park.
John Bader of the Farmington Parks and Recreation Department said that Harris brought the idea to the department about two months ago and they were pretty excited about it.
"He had one or two drafts of [the project] but his initial idea is pretty much what we went with," said Bader. "We're very pleased with the finished product and we actually just featured it in one of our videos for the Turkey Trot."
Now that Harris has finished the project for Eagle Scout rank, he said he’ll continue to actively participate in troop activities. He wants to use the remainder of his time in the scouts to pass on leadership skills to younger troop members. In April, Harris will turn 18 and age out of the program.
Although he hasn't quite decided what his career path will be, Harris has narrowed it down to working in the medical field or following in the footsteps of family members by going into law enforcement.
Harris said his parents, Samantha and Rothman II, are very proud of his achievement and have always explained to him the importance of following through in this endeavor.
He further explained that the project would not have been possible without all of the sponsors and volunteers. He wants to thank his family, troop and troop leaders, previous and current scoutmasters, troop mentor Chris Klusmeyer, the Eagle Board, volunteers, and friends.
Harris also wants to give special thanks to the employees of the City of Farmington and all the local businesses that helped make this project possible including the Farmington Parks and Recreations Department; Cedar Creek Hardwood in Fredericktown; Gifford’s Lumber Company; Sherwin Williams; Thurman Shinn and Company; Cozean Memorial Chapel & Crematory; Hoods Discount Home Center; Signs Etc.; Crabdree Concrete; Kory Klemperer of Ameriprise; Celebrations; Edward Felker of American Family Insurance; Krekeler Jewelers; Snap-on; Lowe’s; and Menards.