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Growing opportunity: Eagle Scout Service Project brings garden to SOAR

By Andie Foley
andie.foley@salisburypost.com

One student, two parents, 20 volunteers and a combined 110 man-hours have added up to a growing number of opportunities for students in Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s SOAR program.

This student was Scout Nicholas Snipes, of South Rowan High School and Troop 448. Through his Eagle Scout Service Project, Snipes helped create a new and permanent raised garden on the college’s North campus.

The bed will be used to bring valuable life experiences to learners in the Skills, Opportunity, Awareness and Readiness program, a community college program designed specifically for adults with intellectual disabilities.

According to lead instructor and director of SOAR, Bridget Henderson, having the opportunity to grow plants and produce is a valuable experience for learners in the program.

“They already look forward to coming out here and watering the garden every day,” she said. “This is giving them the opportunity not only to eat good stuff like fresh fruit and vegetables, but they also are getting the chance to learn about how to grow and how to give back.”

SOAR will give back through the garden by contributing their school-grown produce to the college’s culinary program and other outreach efforts, Henderson said.

For soon-to-be Eagle Scout Snipes, this knowledge is the most rewarding part of the Eagle Project effort.

“I think it’s kind of nice that you do something for a community and they give something back in return,” he said. “It makes me feel nice that I did something to help it out.”

Snipes has been familiar with the SOAR program since childhood, as his mother Kelly Freeze works on the college campus in College and Career Readiness.

In visiting the college, he formed a relationship with then-SOAR director, Jay Taylor.

“From that point, he always knew he wanted to do something for the SOAR program,” Freeze said.

The need for a new garden arose around the time Henderson became director. Students had been working in a small 4-by-8-foot wooden structure, but it was quickly dilapidating.

“It had been weathered and warped and it was time for an upgrade, Freeze said. “The college wanted something that looked aesthetically pleasing and permanent. Those were (Nicholas’) goals.”

The new 10-by-20-foot space required not only a number of willing volunteers and man hours, but a lot planning, preparation and paperwork.

Snipes gave credit for his ability to finish the effort — and earn his Eagle Scout — to his father, Brent.

“He pushed me. It’s a ton of paperwork from Scout all the way to Life,” he said. “It’s a ton of merit badge paperwork you’ve got to do, and sometimes you don’t want to do it and you get lazy. He always said, ‘You’ve got to work on it.'”

Snipes’ father achieved Eagle Scout in his youth as well — also through Troop 448.

“It’s one of those things you’ve got to be totally focused on it to get it done,” said Freeze. “You can’t be in a lot of other stuff. It has to be your main priority.”

And Snipes agreed, The process to achieving Eagle Scout, which he will be awarded on June 2, took him six years. Completing the service project was the easy part, he said.

“Only four out of every 100 Scouts get their Eagle,” he said. “If you really want to work for it, go for it. If you’re not fully dedicated to it, then you’re not going to get it.”

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