Middle school greenhouse only one step to Eagle Scout

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If confirmed, eighth grader may be troop’s youngest Eagle Scout

By Meaghan Downs

For one Saturday, 14-year-old Jeremiah Andrade is a general contractor, not just a Boy Scout.
“We’re going to try to get it all done today, we’ll go until five,” Andrade said early Saturday morning, explaining the day’s work schedule briefly before excusing himself to speak with a volunteer.   
Andrade, who raised about $1,100 to fund his Eagle Scout project, said he’s never built a greenhouse or a tool shed before.
But three years ago, he’d never been a Boy Scout, either.
Now Andrade is answering cell phone calls about supplies, helping construct the base for the 6 x 8 foot greenhouse, listening to an adult volunteer explain how the wooden 6 x5 tool shed would be built.
“What he does is get the right people there at the right time,” Mark Marraccini, a former Eagle Scout who works with advancement in Troop 37, said Saturday morning.
All that stands between Andrade and his Eagle Scout status is a greenhouse, tool shed and two 45-gallon rain barrels.
That, and paperwork, proving Andrade has earned 21 merit badges and held a leadership position in the troop, as well as presentation in front of the Eagle Scout board of review.
But if anyone could prove his determination to become an Eagle Scout, Andrade could, according to Scoutmaster Kevin Cox. Andrade looks at what he has to do, Cox said, and looks at the next step in his timeline to Eagle Scout.
“Jeremiah has a maturity about him that a lot of younger guys don’t have, that gives him a boost,” Cox, who has been a Scoutmaster for the last 24 years, said.
Typically, Cox said, Boy Scouts who apply become Eagle Scouts between the ages of 16 and 18, with age 18 being the absolute cut off.  
“If he goes and completes, he will be the youngest [Eagle Scout] I’ve had in a long time,” Cox said.
In January, Troop 37 celebrated the Eagle Scout achievement of Bob Jacoby, the youngest of three Eagle Scout brothers.
The odds of becoming an Eagle Scout, according to an Anderson News article about the Jacoby brothers, are about 2 in 100.
Since 2007, Troop 37 has about 16 Boy Scouts achieve Eagle Scout honors, and roughly 20 Eagle Scouts are currently active within the troop, according to Cox and Marraccini.
“It’s real important, not a lot of people get [Eagle Scout]; our troop though, we have quite a number of Eagle Scouts,” Andrade said.
Last April, Andrade said he was speaking with his seventh grade teacher Denise McElroy about his Eagle Scout project when McElroy suggested he assist in building a greenhouse for the middle school.
McElroy, who assisted Andrade Saturday morning by letting workers in and out of her classroom, said she’d been trying to raise money for a greenhouse at the middle school for the last two years.
The Junior Farmers of America club (not a part of any national organization like the FFA, McElroy said, but a middle school agricultural club she formed five years ago) donated a portion of JFA funds for Andrade’s project. Andrade raised the rest.
“He thought that would be a good thing for him to do, and it’s kind of a joint effort,” McElroy, who has been teaching seventh grade science at the middle school for the last five years, said.
 “She’s [McElroy] the one that asked me about it, and she suggested I could do that for her,” Andrade, who transferred from the Christian Academy of Lawrenceburg last year, said.  “They’ll use [the greenhouse] to grow plants, learn about agriculture.”
McElroy said she hopes to use the greenhouse for a future JFA greenhouse sale, much like the one the high school FFA sponsors. The skills the middle school students learn at the middle school greenhouse will also help their transition if they take any similar agricultural classes at the high school, she said.
Even though McElroy will be gone from the classroom on maternity leave, she said she plans to come back to help JFA students in planting and using the greenhouse “just so they can see the fruits of their labor.”
“I want the kids to see it before they leave, especially the eighth graders and especially Jeremiah,” McElroy said.
McElroy said she’s thinking of planting marigold seeds for a spring sale.   

Greenhouse ceremony at middle school
The Anderson County Middle School Junior Farmers of America will be having a ceremony on March 19 at 3:30 p.m. to celebrate the building of its new greenhouse, constructed by ACMS student and JFA member Jeremiah Andrade as his Eagle Scout project. The JFA will use the greenhouse to grow plants to sell as fundraisers. Sheila Mitchell, superintendent of Anderson County Schools, along with ACMS administration will be present, according to seventh grade teacher Denise McElroy.