Local Eagle Scout Comes Full Circle

Jacob Salter, of Boy Scout Troop 212, is pictured with his former teacher, Andrea Siersma, from Lee Elementary School in Rossmoor. Courtesy photo

When it came time to start thinking about an Eagle Scout project, Jacob Salter, of Boy Scout Troop 212 and at the time, an incoming senior at Los Alamitos High School, serendipitously ran into his former 2nd grade teacher, Andrea Siersma, from Lee Elementary School in Rossmoor.

Mrs. Siersma, a creative and engaging teacher, is known for her enthusiasm and out-of-the-box thinking. Jacob shared with her his interest in giving back to his elementary school with his Eagle Scout Project, where he attended kindergarten through 5th grade as well as spent his years as a Cub Scout. She took the opportunity to mention her “dream” of utilizing the garden on the Lee campus as an engaging learning center, with comfortable seats in which the students could read.

Jacob took to heart his former 2nd grade teacher’s ideas and took it upon himself to visit the existing garden at his old stomping grounds, which had been built since he had graduated from 5th grade and since he attended Oak Middle School and LAHS. He also toured the Butterfly Garden on the nearby Weaver Elementary School campus, as well, for inspiration.

It was settled, Jacob would lead a team of fellow Scouts and schoolmates to design and build three benches for the garden at Lee. As part of his Eagle Project, Jacob was also responsible for fundraising the entire amount to pay for the cost of building the benches. He reached out to extended family, friends and community members for support. His enthusiasm and drive for the project helped him quickly raise enough funds to pay for the project.

Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is a long and elaborate process, full of learning for teens. Jacob developed his persistence skills and learned to schedule meetings with adults, and to prepare and lead the meetings. He learned to research, fundraise and follow through. In addition to the 21-plus Merit Badges that are required to earn the rank of Eagle, the seven years he has spent as a Boy Scout (12 in Scouting, including Cub Scouts), the leadership skills developed, survival skills and life skills in general, Jacob is well prepared for his future.

“I can say with confidence Jacob is what I believe to be a fine citizen of Boy Scout Troop 212, as well as a fine citizen in his community,” Scoutmaster of Troop 212, John Douglass, said of Jacob.

While working through the approval process, Jacob worked closely with Amy Laughlin, Principal at Lee Elementary. She was impressed with his maturity and follow-through, especially considering all of the many responsibilities he juggles – as a student, as Dance Captain for the LAHS nationally award-winning Show Choir Program, and as a Boy Scout. He also experienced working with site facilities staff, as well as Dr. Nancy C. Nien, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for LAUSD.

Mrs. Siersma reports that nearly all grade levels at Lee are utilizing the Garden Learning Center even more, as a true Outdoor Classroom. For example, as reading benches when a class wants to read outside; classroom seats when the Master Gardeners are teaching the second and third graders about how to garden; and when the kindergarten and first grade teachers are leading the students to learn about living vs. non-living.

She was able to introduce her current Lee students to Jacob, explaining that he was once a second grader in her classroom just as they are now; that he has since become an LAHS graduate; that her former student who built the benches for their garden, is now an Eagle Scout and off to college. Jacob is excited to be attending Ohio University in the fall as a Musical Theatre major.

Local Eagle Scout Comes Full Circle