Last year, Langhorne’s Roland New completed a massive undertaking, an accomplishment which paid off in a big way. On March 30th of this year Roland was honored with the status of Eagle Scout, the highest achievement for a Boy Scout.
“I keep telling everyone, my son is an Eagle Scout,” said Roland’s father, Earl.
It wasn’t an easy road for Roland but it’s one he looks back on with a sense of pride.
The final project that qualified him for this honor was one many other Scouts turned down, but Roland didn’t hesitate when the director at Silver Lake Nature Center (SLNC) mentioned his need.
“I’ve been going to the Nature Center my whole life,” said Roland. “I told them we would get it done.”
He didn’t know at the time how extensive the project would be – deconstructing 300 yards of 50-year-old overgrown steel fencing.
“The fence had grown into the earth,” Earl recalls. “It was five decades of nature growing over it – saplings grew into trees and the fence became part of the bark.”
The size and scope of the project was unmatched and had to be done completely by hand without the aid of heavy equipment in order to preserve the delicate ecosystem at SLNC (the only one like it in the area).
It was also placed on a time limit.
“I was set to turn 18 that December (of 2018) and once that happened, I wouldn’t be able to become an Eagle Scout,” said Roland.
There were two time periods when the fence removal could occur – in spring before everything bloomed or in fall when everything was dying.
“It was frustrating – volunteers we had set up kept falling away because we had to keep pushing the date due to several Nor’easters that March,” Earl said.
Once they marked the fence line with bright orange tape they realized the full extent of the project spanned over four different sites including a swamp area.
Trees had to be removed and brush and bramble bushes had to be cleared before beginning fence removal – it was completely overgrown, hidden to the naked eye.
Fence posts were buried in the earth and had to be hand-dug out then yanked from the ground.
The removal phase of the project came to play on April 21st, 2018, which also happened to be Earth Day.
The nature center was full of volunteers for Earth Day planting, and most of the tools SLNC had promised to Roland were in use – yet another obstacle that wasn’t going to stop Roland and his band of volunteers including his mother, father and members of his Troop #19.
Volunteers arrived around 9:00am and were finished with the removal of the fence by 3:00pm, the culmination of a project that took Roland many months of planning, preparation, demolition and coordination.
During his time in the Scouts, Roland said, “I learned a lot of life lessons I think everyone should know, not just survival skills.”
At his Court of Honor, the church was packed with community leaders, family, friends, fellow Scouts and others from the community in support of Roland’s accomplishments.
The Troop #19 leader, Roland’s mentor, mentioned to Earl afterwards it was the longest standing ovation he had seen for an Eagle Scout.
Congratulations Roland on your well-deserved achievements!
PHOTO CAP: Roland New (center), with his parents, Earl and Jennifer