CLARENDON HILLS – It started out as basically a giant ashtray, but by the time one Boy Scout was done, it became a paradise garden.
“The flower pot was there, but it was just used for cigarettes,” said 17-year-old Nikhil Shiva of Clarendon Hills. “There were some flowers here, but a lot of them were just dead.”
Shiva started planning his Eagle Scout project last July to beautify the area near the front entrance of Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. At the time, a flower pot was used to house cigarette buds, flowers lay dead and lights were covered by tree brush.
On June 23, Shiva and a group of 15 Boy Scouts got together to clean up the area and install a new garden, which included assembling and installing three benches.
“It took around 6.5 hours, but I think I had 120 man hours total,” he said.
Shiva planted three rows of yellow day lilies around the garden, about 40 total. He also cleaned up the area, laid mulch and trimmed tree branches.
“It was hot, but there was a little bit of shade and a nice breeze,” he said. “Luckily, we finished just in time before the rain.”
Working as a volunteer at the hospital, Shiva observed the site on a daily basis and realized it only was being used for smokers, which is how he came up with the idea to reinvent the area.
Shiva had to raise $2,000 for the project, and he said any extra funds now will go to the hospital. Besides his work there, he also volunteers at Vascular and Interventional Radiology in Hinsdale and hopes one day to be a doctor.
One thing that helped Shiva accomplish his project was the Scout Oath, which starts with, “On my honor I will do my best.” Shiva said it was skills like leadership and respecting the environment that helped him through Boy Scouts and in this project.
His Eagle Scout mentor, John McGowen, also helped guide him through the process of planning and implementing the project, and also on his journey to become an Eagle Scout.
“Having to plan out a whole project really culminates everything you learn in Boy Scouts,” he said.
He has to now finish one more merit badge, submit his paperwork and get final approval from council before officially earning Eagle Scout recognition, which could be at the end of summer.
Looking back on Boy Scouts, Shiva smiled as he recalled trips to Florida for scuba diving, rock climbing at Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin and years of participating in the pine wood derby.
“I think it has just been a really amazing experience because I’ve learned so much through the experiences I had,” he said. “The Eagle Scout project just sums up pretty much everything you learned in Boy Scouts.”