To complete the requirements for Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve, many scouts tackle projects like clearing trails at a local park, organizing a food or blood drive or assisting a nonprofit organization.
Peter Kociba dreamed bigger.
Peter, 15 and a sophomore at Mason High School, knew he wanted his Eagle Scout service project to have a lasting impact on the Mason Schools community, he said. And as an avid outdoorsman and aspiring marine biologist, he wanted to work with nature.
Then, the idea came to him. He would revitalize the Environmental Study Area at Mason Intermediate School as a living memorial to the school’s beloved associate principal Dave Segrist, who died in 2011 after an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He hopes to unveil the project in May.
“Someone did a project here before, but it needed help again,” Peter said. “When I was in school, I didn’t know (Mr. Segrist) that much, but I felt that I could do something for him. He worked hard here and I thought he might want a memorial.”
Teachers first transformed the 2-acre grassy field into an environmental study area in 1994 to supplement the science curriculum. Volunteers later added paths, gardens and bird boxes, planted pine trees, dug a pond and created an outdoor classroom.
But the efforts proved difficult to maintain. Over time, the ESA devolved into a swampy, flood-prone overgrown eyesore, which limited how teachers and students could use the space, said science teacher Dale Moberly: “Teachers would try to spruce it up and keep up the maintenance but over the years it had become a real mess.’’
Peter approached Moberly in late 2011 and pitched his plan. He wanted to clear out the butterfly garden and trails and replant and mulch them, replace trash cans holding bird seed, plant a memorial Sugar Maple tree in honor of Segrist (the tree’s purple leaves symbolize the color of pancreatic awareness efforts) and commemorate the educator’s 29-year teaching legacy with a plaque.