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An Eagle Scout’s service

By Staff | Jan 4, 2013

Andrew Johnson, or “Drew” as he likes to be called, is a 14 year-old scout committed to community service and conservation.

Before a special ceremony held at the Shepherdstown Train Station to officially award him his Eagle Scout status, Johnson described the work hes been doing to promote conservation and preserve some of Shepherdstown’s natural and historic beauty.

“I wanted to teach people,” he said.

Last summer Johnson decided he would do just that, when he held a camp designed to teach local children the basics of conservation.

The half-day camp which involved about 30 kids, was one project Johnson undertook as part of his quest to earn the William T. Hornday Award for scouting. The award recognizes “outstanding efforts in natural resource conservation and environmental protection.”

Johnson said he taught the kids basic outdoor skills and gave them the opportunity to participate in a real-life conservation effort.

Johnson led the students through a project at the Antietam National Park, which he said has a goal of becoming a bluebird sanctuary. Johnson and his campers built about 40 bluebird birdhouses for the park that day, only one of a series of large scale projects he’s undertaken.

“It gives a significant plus to the community,” he said of the work he’s done.

Johnson a member of Martinsburg’s Troop 32, Boy Scout Troop, also did work this past year on his to own to help preserve some of Shepherdstown’s most treasured historic spaces.

“We are trying to get rid of bamboo at the Mecklenburg Tobacco Warehouse,” he said. “It’s threatening some of the ruins that are there.”

Johnson described the bamboo, called, “running bamboo,” as highly invasive.

Because pesticides cannot be used to destroy the plant due to its proximity to the Potomac River, the scout has spent hours chopping it down by hand, first with chainsaws, and then with machete knives and handsaws.

“It’s one of the hardest plants to get rid of,” he said.

Officially awarded his Eagle Scout honor at the ceremony Friday, the highest honor given to a boy scout, Johnson’s achievement was celebrated by members of his family, his troop and other close friends.

A third generation scout, Johnson said his family has always been actively committed to service work around the region and have offered service through their church as well as through the scouts.

“We (family) have been doing it forever and it’s awesome,” he said.

Johnson’s plans in the long term include a dream of attending the Naval Academy, but for now he plans to keep working toward the Hornaday award and finding new ways to promote conservation.

“I want to preserve nature so that more and more people can enjoy it.”