Haley Snyder, a graduate of Oak Ridge High School and currently a freshman at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, is the first female in Oak Ridge to have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. She is a member of Troop 42G of the Boy Scouts of America, which is chartered by First Presbyterian Church of Oak Ridge.
In 2019, the Boy Scouts of America changed its policies to allow girls to form their own Scouts BSA troops and follow the path to Eagle Scout. The session of the Oak Ridge church voted that year to support Troop 42 in forming a female troop.
Haley’s Eagle Scout project was to expand the church’s community garden by building fenced-in garden plots beside the church’s education building, which houses the Early Head Start of Anderson County program. “The new garden consists of seven garden beds, each 4 feet by 16 feet, and a chain link fence surrounding it,” Haley said.
She added that the new garden will allow food-insecure community members access to fresh vegetables distributed through the church’s Welcome Table monthly meal-and-groceries program, as well as provide learning opportunities for Early Head Start students. Early Head Start programs provide family-centered services for low-income families with young children.
“The teachers at the preschool are excited to teach their students about gardening,” Haley said.
She noted that Scouts BSA Troop 42G has been participating in Scouting for Food, an annual food drive by Boy Scouts of America, since its inception.
“I knew I wanted to do something more to help the Welcome Table for my Eagle Scout project because I think it is very important to keep our community fed,” Haley said. “I am glad to know that the community garden will serve so many purposes.”
“We are all very proud of Haley earning her Eagle rank and leading such a beneficial project that contributes to the fight against hunger in the community,” said Scoutmaster Jason Cheney.
“Three aims of the Boy Scouts of America are leadership development, personal fitness, and citizenship training, and Haley’s project embodies all of these.
“She embraced her leadership role in the project from conception to completion. If you had spent a day like she did digging out those beds and laying the concrete blocks, you certainly would know you had completed a good workout! The garden will improve the nutrition and food access for many of the area citizens for years to come.”
“Haley’s project, which will be named the Welcome Garden, will keep on giving for years to come,” said Sharon Youngs, pastor of First Presbyterian Church. “We could not be more impressed by her commitment to help others or more grateful for this gift.”
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