An Eagle Rises: A Celebration of Scouting – Thank You for Your Support

Max together with Scoutmasters Brian Zaino and Paco Shum the night of his Eagle Scout Board of Review

Eagle Scout Max Laible together with Scoutmasters Brian Zaino and Paco Shum on the night of the Eagle Scout Board of Review

My Max has been involved in the Scouts since he was first invited to join the Cubs when he was maybe eight or nine. He came home, handed me a flyer and said, “Mom? I think this is me.”

I think he was right! The Scouting program benefited Max tremendously, and while there were certainly challenges along the way, he seemed to enjoy just about every minute of it. I know of nothing else that so effectively provides the hands on, empowering, broadly based, leadership/community stewardship/handiness/survival/basic life skill sets that the Scouts do. It feeds into EVERYTHING he does.

Scouts accomplish more by their 18th birthdays than many do in a lifetime. When teachers would tell me how my child – who struggled with school – consistently showed leadership, responsibility and practical intelligence, I told them I credited the Scouts. The creativity, kindness and thoughtful, intelligent curiosity are all his own, but they’ve been exercised mightily through the Scouts.

He’s HAD to get organized; To Be Prepared.

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

A Scout Is...

People notice the Eagle Projects. While they are perhaps the most personal imprints a Scout might make, I will say they are but icing on the cake; a final hurrah in a decade-long journey. By the time a kid does his own project, they’ve participated in MANY service projects. Even more, they’ve taught, they’ve led, they’ve planned and they’ve tested, all while learning the value of being a mindful follower.

An Eagle Scout candidate has deeply considered what it means to care for self and family, as well as how to be a good citizen in their community, their nation, internationally and in society as a whole. They understand a bit of how local government works, and have been led to really think about the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. They’ve had basic, fundamental human values drilled into their heads weekly, and been engaged in regular interviews where they’re asked what these values mean and how they apply them in their daily lives.

The basic mandate is a golden one: They are to “Do a Good Turn Daily.”

Eagle Scouts have earned a great deal of merit badges, learning to care for self and others, exploring many potential careers and hobbies, and developing deep practical skills. They’ve actively shaped their own experience as well as that of those who lead and follow them. They’ve fed people, guided them on long journeys, learned to safely wield both fire and an axe, and prepared in case of emergency.

At our last Eagle Court of Honor, another Scoutmaster told about how his own child – not very old at all – was the cool head at the scene of a horrific motorcycle accident. This kid knew just what to do, because he was a Scout.

It’s training for big things, and basic preparation. I came in once to find Max teaching himself to knot a tie via his Scoutbook. This is not the only time I saw him pull out that tome as a general reference for life. In getting to last weekend, Max spent well over 70 nights camping, 77 hours performing public service and hiked many, many miles. He earned over 33 Merit Badges in a broad array of skills ranging from citizenship to life saving, camping to chemistry, animation to welding, physical fitness, family life, personal management…

Cliche as it may be, he can’t seem go anywhere without someone asking him how to tie some kind of knot. 

He can conduct either end of a professional interview and has held increasingly responsible leadership positions for years. He worked on at least 12 Eagle projects and led more than 35 people to build his own.

…and, somehow, that’s just a little bit of it…

“On my honor I will do my best to make my training and example, my rank and my influence count strongly for better Scouting and for better citizen-ship in my Troop in my community and in my contacts with other people. To this I pledge my sacred honor.” ~Excerpt from the Eagle Oath

Eagle Projects

While an Eagle project is really just icing on the cake, it’s no lesser detail.

Eagle Projects must be identified, permitted, coordinated and constructed, ideally with the scout himself leading rather than doing as many aspects as possible. They have to create detailed plans (such that should they fall ill the troop can do the project without them), and rally both financial and volunteer support to realize them. Then, they have to report on how it all went.

I can’t remember all the projects Max has participated in, but I know they’ve ranged from dog playgrounds for local shelters, to endeavors to serve folks with Alzheimer’s and developmental disabilities; from trail markings to improvements to the church that hosts us. In his last year alone Max assisted:

Christian Arroyo in developing really cool bee hotels at Elijah Farm in Dix Hills.
Kyle Montagni in building an amazing outdoor classroom for the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery (I love that we can see this one from the road every time we drive by!)
Ashishpal DeWal in transforming an aging Eagle Project greenhouse into a beautiful new butterfly sanctuary for the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s East Meadow Farm.
 
The full list of Troop 205 Eagles is thus:
2014 Matthew Duggan
2014 Tully Frain

2014 John Edward Zaino
2016 Thomas Clarke
2016 Spencer Gliner
2016 Hayden Dancy
2016 Elizar Alden Aspiras
2018 Jack Mok
2018 Vincent Eng
2018 Marc Huo
2018 Matthew Gavieta
2018 Terence Smith
2018 Andrew Aspiras
2022 Grant Dell’Anno
2022 Christian Arroyo
2023 Kyle Montagni
2023 Ashishpal DeWal
2023 Maxwell Owen Laible
 
Each had a different journey, making deep and unique contributions to the community. So did many other scouts who never made Eagle (only about 6% generally do!), but who will be influenced by their scouting experience for the rest of their lives. Max will tell you each one of them has been important to his own experience as well.
A photo of the educational kiosk, fence and garden Max led over 35 others to build at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor
A photo of the educational kiosk, fence and garden Max led over 35 others to build at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor

Max’s Project: Building an Educational Gateway at the Nassau County Museum of Art

Max’s own project involved building a visual gateway to native grasslands now being restored at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor. We wrote a little bit about this before here and here. The final project included a split rail fence, a kiosk that serves as an outdoor education asset, and a model garden of native plants. We are delighted to report that the plants are now being maintained and expanded upon by a local garden club. 

This could not have happened without folks who cared to help. These included fellow Scouts, returning Eagles, parent leaders, friends, family, teachers, and great neighbors. Some offered guidance. Others, financial support. Some lent tools and gave materials. Many rolled up their sleeves and showed up to get the final job done. In particular, we offer grateful thanks to:

Michael Borra
Sofia Calle
Kenneth Cao
The Ceron Family
Amy Cincotta
The Clarke Family
Greg Dancy
The DeWal Family
Jim Darcy
Matthew Duggan
The Gliner Family
Angelo Guardado
Jean Henning
Danielle Kaplan
The Laible Family
Gail Lamberta
Jennifer Lau

The Lim Family
Katrina Ludwikowski
The Ma Family
The Montagni Family
Craig Mooers
Drigo Morin
Rob Nock
Northport Native Garden Initiative
Gavin Ng
Jamie Pedicini
Adrianna Peres-DaSilva
Riverhead Building Supply
Lizette Sanlés
The Shum Family
Justin Tian
Brian Zaino
Lawrence Zeltzer

There were so many more who contributed to this journey, and comprise a village Max will value for as long as he lives. In his program, Max wrote this: 

“I am more than thankful for the many years of guidance, care, patience, and humor volunteered by the adult and youth leaders in the troop. I am honored to follow, lead, teach and learn from each and every one of them. I am immensely grateful to all who were there for me during my arduous journey. They made every minute worth the experience.  ~ Yours in Scouting, Max”

We are grateful. Thanks.

Rising Eagle: Please Join Max in Serving the Nassau Museum of Art

Photo of Max Laible at the Nassau Museum with one of his favorite sculptures.

An Eagle Project is one last adventure in a decade-long journey. Max, here, is leading creation of a fence, educational kiosk and model native plant garden that will serve as an enriching gateway to newly restored grasslands at the Nassau County Museum of Art.

Continue reading

Nassau County Museum of Art: Touring the Grounds in Preparation…

A photo of a scout photographing a site while Jean Henning surveys the brush
Update 5/25! The project is moving! Click here to learn more about Max’s endeavor to serve the Nassau County Museum of Art, scouting and other Eagle Projects. As a fundraiser Max selected a collection of photographs to sell through my Zenfolio site. You can also email me to inquire about custom pieces and direct donations.

Above is a photo of my Life Scout son, Max and my dear friend Jean Henning on the grounds of the Nassau County Museum of Art. They’re considering how they might craft an Eagle Scout Project that provides a gateway to a larger grasslands restoration endeavor. A primary objective will be to educate visitors about the local ecosystem, sustainable landscaping, and the need to address damage already completely out of hand.

It is a HUGE delight to me that, somehow, I don’t think I ever thought of the Museum as we brainstormed potential projects. Max remembered it himself from childhood and found Jean’s email address on the website. I am thrilled that for Jean the timing happens to be perfect. It is wonderful to witness them consulting. My job remains to hold myself back and just watch them work.

It is not easy! I am glad I get to help a little and am consoling myself by happily getting to tell the story.

Jean Henning

When I first met Jean in 2008 she was both the former Museum Educator and the Senior Museum Educator of the Nassau County Museum of Art. She told me this meant she was actually slowly retiring. Together with Patricia Lannes, they were guiding school children, general visitors, docents and others through incredible arrays of exhibitions.

In addition to art, art history and cultural understanding, they were developing observation, discourse and diverse “21st Century Learning Skills” with visiting school children from all over Long Island. They taught me a great deal about the value of BOCES as a vehicle for their deeply enriching school field trips, and cutting edge thought in teaching and learning. A primary focus involved groundbreaking programs using art as a vehicle to English Language Literacy. There was much more. She was always good for an interesting conversation! Among her favorite topics were the grounds themselves.

Jean assures me she is still slowly retiring, “Honestly, I hardly even go into the building anymore. I thought I’d miss teaching in the galleries but, while I really loved it, I find I have other things to do now.”

Photo looking up at the Nassau County Museum of Art in 2016
Photo looking up at the Nassau County Museum of Art in 2016

The Nassau County Museum of Art

The Museum has been an independent 501(c)3 not-for-profit since 1989. It occupies a late 19th century neo‐Georgian mansion on 144 acres in Roslyn Harbor. The property’s first owner was poet and longtime NY Evening Post Editor William Cullen Bryant. The mansion was built by US Representative Lloyd Stephens Bryce. It was all later purchased by US Steel Corporation Founder Henry Clay Frick, though it was his son, Childs Frick, a well-known paleontologist and naturalist who actually owned it.

The grounds include multiple structures and formal gardens originally designed in the 1920s by Marian Cruger Coffin. She was one of America’s leading landscape architects. The rest involve relatively large parcels of relatively untouched lands that back up to Cedarmere Preserve. There are fields and forests, including a pinetum with over 100 rare species of conifer. There are ravines and ponds. All of it contains diverse plant and wildlife species.  

Photo of Porcelain Berry by Katheryn Laible
Pretty poison Porcelain Berry in my own back yard in late October, 2021. It quickly spreads to strangle trees... If you've ever seen Stranger Things, it's root network is reminiscent...

Rare Species...and Invasive Ones: Moving From Preservation to Stewardship

“Honestly, it’s now a catalogue of invasive species.” Jean notes with a grim look as she guides us on a survey of potential sites. We discuss the bigger picture and note relevant details as Max takes it all in.

She leads us down a path that is much wider than I remember.

“COVID” she says, seeing my expression, “SO many people came here walking. I hope they keep it up. They created some really great paths. It’s actually helping us get inside and see what’s going on.”

She navigates under a large fallen tree noting that it’s, “good exercise for people, especially someone my age.” As we go along, she shares resources she’s gathered and what she’s learned since she really got to focus on this.

Jean reflects that while the problems associated with invasive species have been developing under our noses for decades, solving them is something of a new field. Dealing with it all is a process of debate and experimentation. So far, there’s been a lot of mowing and letting-growing. She’s long been determined to minimize the use of poisons, but also knows many are recommending thoughtful applications. She considers that a bit as she eyes some of the more intractably infested areas.

A main focus has been the pretty poison that is Porcelain Berry. English Ivy, and Multiflora Rose run amuck. As she points her plant app at species she’s unsure of, some results make her smile. Others furrow her brow.

She makes it clear that if the gateway garden Max plants could actively replace invasive species, that would be wonderful. Max responds that weeding would be considered more of a Service Project than an Eagle one, but he agrees with the need and will see what he can do.

We discuss wonderful volunteers. She lights up and tells me she’s learned something heartening from a biologist she’s been consulting:

“He tells me that in the ground are living seeds representing a record of 100 years.” She explains further about this wonderful news: The Earth is a living seed bank, especially in these undisturbed lands. If the now smothering invasives are removed, diverse native species, rare ones even, may spring up as payout.

 

Photo of unfurling fern in my backyard, May 2022
Photo of unfurling fern in my backyard, May 2022

Fun to Watch This Take Off

Jean points out spots where she’s witnessing a reemergence already, delighting at ferns with slowly unrolling fronds. Pulling out her phone again, she recommences indentifying things along the edges of land they’ve been reclaiming.

As she finishes the tour, Max offers a few of his evolving thoughts. He explains a bit about his project application process, and how he’ll next consult with the Scout Master and Eagle Coach. He tells her a main purpose of the project is not just to build something for the community, but to exhibit leadership, project management and community connection. He notes there are other scouts who have been intrigued by his ideas. They brainstorm a few options…

It’s going to be fun to see where this goes.

A photo taken of an ascending eagle in Georgeton, Maine in 2015
A photo taken of an ascending eagle in Georgeton, Maine in 2015. Have you seen the ones in Centerport?

For more information on sustainable landscaping, check out our full list of Native Garden and Ecolandscaping Resources. We look forward to adding information on the Museum’s projects and others we’ve come across soon!