By: Sharon Aron Baron
The average age for a Boy Scout who earns his Eagle Scout Award is around 17, but Wilson Ward of Parkland is no average Boy Scout. A few months after turning 14, he earned the coveted award with a project benefiting everyone who visits the Parkland Library.
Besides earning 21 merit badges in everything from archeology to woodworking, what sets an Eagle Scout apart from a Boy Scout is the minimum 100-hour service project that must be conceived, planned and executed by the scout. Through advice from city employees, Wilson decided to build a butterfly garden outside of the Parkland Library.
At the city commission meeting on Wednesday, Mayor Christine Hunschofsky presented Wilson with a proclamation for his achievement.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment at such a young age, and we especially appreciate that he reached out to the City of Parkland and chose to have his project here,” said Hunschofsky. “Our city and our whole community can benefit and I’m excited to see what he can accomplish in the future.”
The idea began rolling while Wilson was working on his advancements in Boy Scouts. One of the requirements of Eagle merit badges ‘Citizenship in the Community’ was to learn about local government by attending a city commission meeting. After attending a meeting in Parkland, Wilson spoke to Public Information Officer Todd DeAngelis about his future Eagle project. DeAngelis told him to call him when he was ready, and he would help.
After some time, Wilson and his parents contacted DeAngelis who suggested Wilson work on a project in coordination with the Parkland Library. Library Manager Joe Green gave Wilson a couple of option for projects, but because of Wilson’s love of science, building a butterfly garden seemed to fit the best.
First, before anything could be constructed, Wilson had to design the project and get the okay. First Green had to approve it, then Wilson had to present it to his local troop committee, and then to the Lighthouse district offices of the Boy Scouts of America. After he received his signatures of approval, he needed to begin raising money. Wilson needed $1,700.00 and thankfully didn’t have to go far to find it. After contacting family members, they were onboard with the project and sent so many donations his mother Sheila had to tell them to stop sending money.
“We had to actually call people and say don’t send money, we’re done,” said Sheila.
Another break came when they went shopping to buy the plants from Leserra’s Nursery in Coconut Creek. When the owners found out what the plants would be used for, they told Wilson it would be their gift to him – over $500 worth of plants.
“How nice is that?” Said Sheila. “He [Wilson] did not ask. We had our list, and our money to pay for them because he raised it.”
Because of that donation, Wilson had extra money. Green suggested he buy additional supplies, which were then donated to the Friends of the Library for the community garden at the Parkland Recreational and Enrichment Center. Just a few weeks ago Wilson’s Troop 249 would help rebuild it after Hurricane Irma.
The Wilson Ward Eagle Project took six months from conception to completion: a total of 254 service hours. The assembly took three weekends, and because it was a leadership program, Wilson oversaw up to 19 scouts working on the garden. The area is now a Certified Wildlife Habitat and has the four basic elements needed for a habitat to thrive: food, water, cover, and places to raise offspring.
Wilson’s parents Sheila and Aaron Ward along with younger sister Kenslee, 9, are originally from Overland Park, KS. When Wilson was in first grade, he attended a Cub Scout drive with a friend and decided to join. A few years later when the family was transferred to Lantana, TX, Wilson earned all 20 Webelos pins as a Webelos 1. At the age of 10, while in fourth grade, he earned his Arrow of Light which gave him his entry into Boy Scouts.
Wilson’s father Aaron has also been involved with scouting. He began as a den leader, then cub master, and is now the scoutmaster for Troop 249 which meets at the First United Methodist Church in Coral Springs. Kenslee enjoys scouting as well, and always goes along wherever the family goes.
A competitive swimmer for the Coral Springs Swim Club National Team, Wilson keeps his mother busy with his grueling schedule. Two days a week before school, he swims for an hour at the crack of dawn, then on weekdays he leaves school early to swim for three hours, and again on Saturday mornings.
Wilson has also been a member of the National Junior Honor Society for three years and has sustained his place on the Principal’s Honor Roll since entering middle school.
Wilson said that being an Eagle Scout has been a goal he has worked towards since first grade. He feels proud to have completed it at the age of 14, as well as excited to see what opportunities open up for him in the future as a result.