Hermon park gets new picnic area built by Eagle Scout

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 5:09 PM EDT
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HERMON, Maine (WABI) - Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum on Annis Road in Hermon has a new picnic area, all thanks to 18-year-old Boy Scout James Raleigh.

“I decided to look around the community and I saw that here at Ecotat there wasn’t really an area where people could sit, chat, eat,” explains Raleigh.

He says that while they were seating areas spread throughout the park, they were all single benches with no tables.

“We were excited,” says John Wedgwood, a trustee for Ecotat, when James first approached them with the idea. “We knew that we were lacking a picnic area and it was just great timing.”

“So by the time I ended up getting approved, I had 29 days left to do the project,” describes Raleigh of the process. “We got this area to work in from Ecotat. During the process of digging it out, Dirigo Materials reached out to us and they said, ‘Hey we’re willing to support you in this project, and they donated the gravel underneath. We got a group of people together to help me build the picnic tables. On the day of my graduation, we came in, we finished filling out the area with gravel and woodchips and then we put in the picnic tables.”

After a months long process, the project qualified him for Eagle Rank.

For Raleigh, the new picnic area is all about curating community connections. In fact, this isn’t his first project aimed to bring people together. In 2020, James completed his Pet Badge by creating the “Quarantine Pet Show” Facebook group.

Now, he’s glad to be moving his efforts from a digital to physical space.

“Areas like this where people can come together, enjoy each other’s company and friendship, building relationships with other members in society can really help to build a better future for those that are growing up in today’s world,” comments Raleigh.

“We have lack of space to get out and about, and this is one space that has almost 90 acres of trails and 8 acres of gardens that people can enjoy when they’re outside,” Wedgwood says of the park’s importance. “And to have this here, to have a picnic after you’ve done your hiking. It’s a great thing.”