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October 25, 2011 > Gutierrez completes Eagle Scout project

Gutierrez completes Eagle Scout project

By Simon Wong, Photo courtesy of Nelson Kirk

Union City resident and member of Mission Peak District Scout Troop 273 Matt Gutierrez completed his Eagle Scout Project at the end of August 2011 at Fire Station No 4, Union City.

The 18-year old and his crew converted an existing front lawn into a low-maintenance and water-conserving landscape using a bay-friendly technique called sheet mulching. The latter entails laying cardboard or newspaper over an existing lawn, then placing layers of compost and wood mulch on top. The layers suppress weed growth and decompose naturally to create a vibrant ecosystem containing healthier soil and plants. Day lilies, sea lavender, harbor dwarf nandina and electric pink cordyline were planted in the area in front of the fire station and on Eastin Court. Union City Public Works staff Alex Quintero and Eugene Gordillo assisted.

The bay-friendly landscape requires watering once every two weeks instead of three or four times per week which the lawn used to need at this time of year. It is hoped that this project will encourage homeowners to substitute drought-tolerant gardens for their thirsty lawns.

"The idea for the project arose through discussion with Union City Grounds Supervisor Nelson Kirk. I liked the idea of saving water by using eco-friendly plants; it reminded me of part of the Outdoor Code, 'Be conservation minded,' explained Gutierrez.

"I started planning my Eagle Project on May, 26, 2011. Before executing the work on-site, I wrote a proposal containing key planning facts - what items would be needed, where to source them, identifying what the volunteers would do at each stage of the works and contingency plans to overcome any problems that might arise. The project's completion depended on successful management of the volunteer crew. I consulted Mr. Kirk about the species we would plant and the quantities of mulch and cardboard required. Troop 273's Scoutmaster, Lee Amon, approved the project. Completion of my Eagle Project represents a big step forward in my Scouting life; it was an opportunity to assume responsibility for others through my own actions and decisions to achieve a goal," he added.

For Gutierrez, becoming an Eagle Scout means more responsibility. He is mindful of what he has learned, viz. helping others whenever he can and applying the skills he has acquired through Scouting to real life situations.

The Chabot College student joined Cub Scouts as a Tiger Cub when he was in the first grade, aged 6, and has worked steadily towards becoming an Eagle Scout. Twenty-one merit badges are needed towards qualification as an Eagle Scout; a dozen are compulsory and the remaining nine are elective. Gutierrez has earned 29 - Camping, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Environmental Science, Family Life, First Aid, Lifesaving, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Swimming, Basketry, Fingerprinting, Indian Lore, Leatherwork, Archery, Art, Electronics, Fishing, Reptile & Amphibian Study, Motor Boating, Painting, Skating, Music, Pets, Canoeing, Small Boat Sailing and Reading.

As for the future, Gutierrez plans to transfer from Chabot College, Hayward, and to become an Electrical Engineer and work with Robotics.

For more information about Scouting within the San Francisco Bay Area Council, visit Alternatively contact Joe Barton at (510) 577-9227 and or Steve Armstrong at about the different scouting units in the Mission Peak District (serves Fremont, Union City and Newark) and Tres Ranchos District (serves Hayward, Castro Valley, San Lorenzo and San Leandro).

For more information about Scouting within the Santa Clara County Council, visit Alternatively, contact Ken Schott at (408) 280-5088 or about the different scouting units in the Coyote Creek District (serves Edenvale, Evergreen, Milpitas, Berryessa, Alum Rock, Mt. Pleasant, parts of downtown and East San Jose).

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