By Candi Pennington
As you may know, trail work is often volunteer-based, and sometimes getting those volunteers to come out to a workday is challenging. You can imagine what we were thinking when we received an email from an Eagle Scout who wanted to plan a project from start to finish and donate it to one of our local trails. Needless to say, he had our attention! This particular email came from a 17-year-old “life” scout from Mt. Tabor high school named Jack Rauschenberg. Jack was encouraged to get in touch with FORBA through his Eagle Scout advisor, Brett Burey. An avid mountain biker, Brett suggested Jack reach out to FORBA for direction on his project. In the fall, Jack met with FORBA president, Jake Easter, briefly to discuss his ideas, and a bridge project at Horizons Mountain Bike Park was born.
Jack came out to the March trail work day at Horizons Park to meet some FORBA members and to talk with us about how his idea for this project came to be. Jack’s love for mountain biking led him to teach a mountain biking skills class last summer at Camp Raven Knob. Jack talked about this experience fondly and shared how part of earning the Eagle Scout ranking involves not only giving back to the community but requires a project that builds something. After Jack and Jake’s initial meeting, Jack planned all the details and raised funds for the bridge by emailing family and friends. He recalled it took about two weeks to get everything together including shopping for materials. In the month of February, Jack and some friends from his scout troop hauled in their supplies and got to work. Jack chose an area with some technical roots and designed the bridge as an alternate ride around. From start to finish, it took the group 3 days to get the bridge in place and ready to ride.
When Jack leads me to the bridge, he jumps up and down on it, pleased with how strong and sturdy it is. I’m impressed with the slight turn Jack has designed in the bridge and the wire stapled to the surface for added safety as well as its structural support. It’s sturdy and not going anywhere I can see how proud Jack is of the bridge. He shares the sense of accomplishment when he tells how he and his friends came out to ride it together once it was completed and mentions how satisfying it is to know people will enjoy this option on the trail for years to come. Jack and I finish off some debris cleanup and trail trimming together before he has to leave.
Jack loves to build and is interested in getting more involved with FORBA! I give Jack a few hints on what the future holds for FORBA and he says, “count me in!” When he leaves, I am filled with a sense of deep gratitude. Not just for this kid who reached out to us, but for ALL of our volunteers! We really can’t maintain our trails without you.