Matt Stokes has lived in Columbia County for about two years, and during that time, he's developed a love for his community.
It is that love that fueled his desire to earn his Eagle Scout badge by committing to a landscaping project at a local elementary school.
"I was just looking for ideas for my Eagle Scout project," said Stokes, who graduated this year from Greenbrier High School where he was an honor student. "I sent e-mails to the schools asking if they needed anything done."
Of the dozen or so e-mails sent out, Stokes received three responses. One of those came from Jeannie Hill, principal of Riverside Elementary School. Her school was looking to achieve a different look in the landscape in front of the school but didn't have much money to spend.
"It is important to any business to have their building pleasing and inviting," Hill said. "Part of that process is to have your building nicely landscaped. It is an expense on the school and school board to ensure that this happens. We were in need of revising and improving our landscaping in the front of the building. Stokes came along just in time to help us accomplish this and save money."
Matt Stokes received his Eagle Scout badge after a service project that included a landscaping project in front of Riverside Elementary School.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Stokes met with school officials and a local landscaper to determine how best to do the project. Then, he and nearly 15 volunteers spent several days getting the job done.
"There were three different beds in front that had grass between them," said Stokes, the 18-year-old son of Jeff and Julie Stokes of Evans. "It was a hassle for them to mow, so we connected all of the beds."
In all, nearly 80 hours of work were put into the project, which earned Stokes his Eagle Scout badge.
"His work was praised by the principal and some on the Eagle Board of Review who had seen it," said Darren Pittard, Stokes' Scoutmaster for the past two years. "At the same time, he was working on two or three merit badges that also required significant time and effort."
"He worked diligently and showed great commitment to the project," Hill said.
During the time he was working to earn his Eagle Scout badge, Stokes served as captain of the Wolfpack soccer team and worked on a senior project that involved researching his family history seven generations back.
"Matt was a two-year starter for our team," said Greenbrier High soccer coach Chip Warren. "He was voted the best offensive and best defensive player this season. Generally, these are two separate awards, however Matt was voted for both awards by his teammates. He was a quite leader who wasn't very vocal, but led by his example."
In the fall, Stokes will attend Augusta State University. He plans to go on a two-year mission next summer with his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Augusta. Following his return to the United States, Stokes hopes to attend college and play soccer.
As far as careers are concerned, Stokes said he'd like to become a dentist.
"I just think it would be a fun thing to do," he said.
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