News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters has a new Eagle Scout

When an Eagle Scout candidate gets it into his head that he wants to do a community project, get out of his way — or be prepared to give him a hand.

Austen Heuberger, a Sisters High School junior member of Boy Scout Troop 188 was hiking around on the common area of Junipine Acres where he lives when he thought, “Gee whiz, there’s no information about the boundaries of the property, places for wildlife viewing, seasonal closures or historical notes around here. I wonder if the residents of Junipine would like to have some kiosks along here and make this a trail…”

He consulted with Gretchen Matos who, in partnership with her husband, Gary, are part of the Common Area Committee of Junipine Acres, and they lit upon an idea to create an informational kiosk, and away they went.

“When we moved to Junipine Acres (north of Sisters) we knew we had found a special place. Land, beautiful ponderosa pines and a sense of community,” Matos told The Nugget.

“We also had a 24-acre neighborhood common area along Whychus Creek. In conversation with neighbors at our annual meetings we decided the common area could use some attention for fire safety and to improve the user experience.

“Early in my career I had worked on developing a number of nature trails and visitor centers. The common area seemed to cry out for some interpretive signage that would add a finishing touch to the area clean-up. Enter Austen Heuberger.

“His family had the same idea, and Austen approached the board with a proposal to design, build and help develop information kiosks. Neighbor Dick Tipton, woodworker extraordinaire, volunteered to offer his shop, tools and expertise, and in short order the two, along with neighbor and high school chum Keever Malloy and his dad, Scott, Austen constructed and installed 3 wood-frame and plexiglass information kiosks.

“They’ll have seasonal information on wildlife that can be observed in the common area — like the resident turkey flock and bobcat — and a history of past common area use (for example, there used to be a swimming pond, showers and horse corral there).

“The hope is the signage will make a visit to the common area for neighbors and their guests more interesting and educational and help us as a neighborhood value and protect this special place.”

Which sums up the goals of an Eagle Scout’s project: do things for others that will make life more fun, put your own finances into making it happen and do it to the best of your ability.

Austen’s parents, Scott and Jessica, listened to what he and Gretchen had in mind and threw their hats into the ring immediately, hoping the Junipine kiosks would meet all the requirements for Eagle Scout.

The Eagle Scout rank represents a milestone of accomplishments that is recognized across the country. Those who have earned the Eagle Scout rank count it among their most treasured achievements.

An Eagle Scout applicant has to be between 16 and 18 years old, and he must be actively participating in scouting, have the Scout Spirit, a fistful of merit badges, position of responsibility, a service project, and meet with the Eagle Scout Board of Review.

While Austen was a Life Scout, he planned, developed, and gave leadership to others in his service projects, making sure it was helpful to any religious institution or school in his community. (The project must benefit an organization other than the Boy Scouts of America.)

Once his Eagle Scout proposal gained approval by the organization benefiting from the effort, along with his unit leader, unit committee, and the council or district, he was on his way. “To help other people at all times” is a basic tenet of scouting. That is part of the service project and a meaningful opportunity to practice what they teach.

Austen’s scoutmaster, Eric Liddell, has this to say about the kiosk project:

“Thank you to everyone who helped support him along the way. It has been exciting to see Austen muster up the energy and motivation to finish all his Eagle Scout requirements. Austen is a fantastic young man who has shared his amazing talents and abilities with everyone in our troop. He is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when you set a goal and go ‘all in.’ We are excited to see all the incredible things Austen will do next.”


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