Deb Wagner
Freelance Writer
January 31, 2017 // Local

St. Thomas the Apostle parishioner awarded Eagle Scout rank

Deb Wagner
Freelance Writer

St. Thomas the Apostle parishioner Sam Coates was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout in January after completing a project to build and install barred owl, wren and wood duck houses at Elkhart’s Wellfield Botanical Gardens. Here he installs a wood duck house in Christiana Creek.

On Jan. 10, Sam Coates, 18, of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish Boy Scout Troop 750, was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout. He constructed and installed houses for the barred owls, wrens and wood ducks of Elkhart’s Wellfield Botanical Gardens. The Elkhart Central High School senior estimates the project took about a year to complete.

Coates met with several organizations in the area before deciding to work with Wellfield Botanical Gardens. ”Wellfield was chosen for my project because they had a clear idea of what they wanted,” Coates said.

Even though the goal was clear, Coates encountered two main challenges along the way. One was that he said he found himself exercising leadership skills with younger Scouts regarding the necessary task and teamwork to complete the job.

Fundraising was his second challenge. Using his contacts through the parish, Wellfield Botanical Gardens and his troop, the estimated $400 in materials needed for the project were donated. Coates said he telephoned, emailed and visited with a lot of people before achieving his fundraising goal. The weather also proved to be a challenge at times, such as when they had to dig underwater in the rain in order to bury 5-gallon buckets of cement. The buckets held the poles upon which the wood duck houses were mounted.

Upon the announcement of Pioneer Trails’ newest Eagle Scout, Coates acknowledged the help of his Scout leaders and fellow Scouts in arriving at this remarkable achievement.

From his Eagle Scout project, Coates said he acquired a few skills that will be beneficial to him in the future. He said he learned that in order to get a large group of people to complete a project, you have to keep them on task. In the future, he plans on studying computer science and is grateful he has these task-completion and leadership experiences, as they’ll help him successfully manage a computer science project.

Sam Coates stands in his garage with his completed barred owl, wren and wood duck houses destined for the botanical gardens.

Coates has applied to eight schools of higher education and has already been accepted to Purdue University for next school year, but is waiting to hear back from a few more places such as Stanford, Yale and MIT before making his selection. Ultimately, he aspires to work for Google. He says another option he would entertain is going on to graduate school so he could work as a college professor.

When asked what the rank of Eagle Scout meant to him, Coates said, “It is the crowning achievement of my Scouting career.” He has been in Scouting since he was old enough to join. His mother, Kate, reflected, “In the beginning, you are not sure if this is going to be a lasting endeavor. In the last year, however, Sam took ownership of the project and incorporated everything Scouting taught him. I watched him become a man in the last year.”

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