Scout earns Eagle rank through child-care center beautification
Since 2004, 218 Boy Scouts in Southeast Miami-Dade’s Tequesta District have achieved the rank of Eagle. Among the latest is Alexander Martini of Troop 76 at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.
Alexander said his interest in scouting goes back to first grade, when his grandfather gave him a book about the Cub Scouts.
“I asked my dad to find out about Cub Scouts in the area,” said Alexander, now an 18-year-old senior at Miami Palmetto High School. “I wanted to see if I could join the pack.”
Alexander’s chances of becoming an Eagle Scout looked promising from the moment he became a Cub Scout in first grade.
In just one year, Alexander achieved Cub Scouting’s highest rank, the Arrow of Light, an honor that is usually bestowed upon Cub Scouts after two years of service. Earning the Arrow of Light Award then made Alexander eligible to become a Boy Scout.
After many years of Boy Scout service, Alexander set his sights on the Eagle badge. But first, he needed to complete an Eagle Scout service project.
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church houses Troop 76 meetings and often does volunteer work for St. Alban’s Child Enrichment Center in Coconut Grove. At the suggestion of a St. Alban’s contact, Alexander’s mother, Nancy Martini, an artist, approached him with the idea of completing a service project for the child enrichment center.
Alexander proposed installation of a butterfly garden and several picnic tables at St. Alban’s.
“He wanted to help kids. It was great and a leadership opportunity,” said Mrs. Martini. “He had to organize it, do all the research, and coordinate with St. Alban’s.”
However, Alexander first needed to complete an Eagle Scout packet and get his project approved by both his Scoutmaster and the Tequesta District Eagle Board.
Cesar Fernandez, Scoutmaster of Troop 76, had the utmost faith in Alexander from the very beginning.
“When Alexander sets his mind to it, he can achieve anything he wants,” said Scoutmaster Fernandez. “I remember him as a Cub Scout and he was just so motivated.”
Once granted approval, Alexander began soliciting contributors — all money used for Eagle Scout service projects must be donated. After raising approximately $900 for the project, Alexander met with a botanist at Miami Dade College to determine which plants and flowers would be suitable for his butterfly garden. The foliage needed to be both safe for children and attractive to butterflies.
Alexander’s project came to fruition on a Saturday in February. With the help of four fellow Boy Scouts, parents of friends and St. Alban’s staff, Alexander and the team planted about 20 plants, including Bahamian coffee and sage; spread mulch; and installed a border for the garden in just one day. After the garden was completed, he added durable, lacquer-stained wooden picnic tables.
“They all thought it was very nice,” said Alexander, who received a thank you letter from the president of St. Alban’s for all his efforts. “The best part was doing the project, the most straight-forward part.”
Though his actions were recognized by many, including the Tequesta District Eagle Board, which awarded Alexander his Eagle rank in August, it seems his mother understands the extent of his efforts the most.
“I’m very proud. It’s not just the Eagle project. It’s the years he put into learning about scouting before the Eagle project,” said Mrs. Martini.
Scoutmaster Fernandez agrees. “I’m definitely proud of him.”
With nearly 12 years of scouting under his belt, Alexander hopes to study mechanical engineering at the University of Central Florida next year. He feels his experience as a Boy Scout has helped pave the way for a successful future.
“Being a Boy Scout taught me a lot,” he said. “It taught me skills I’ll use for the rest of my life, like communication and how to fix things and survive.”