Thanks to the efforts of Eagle Scout candidate Eric Frieb, Olmitz, The Dominican Sisters of Peace now have shade and accessibility at Heartland Farm events covered. Literally. Since early spring, Frieb, his parents and a host of volunteer labor have undertaken a project to construct a pavilion in the center of the farm’s herb garden. With the project nearly complete, the farm plans to hold a dedication ceremony at the annual fall harvest celebration Sept. 12, said Jane Belanger, O.P. It will also mark a milestone for Frieb, when Boy Scout Troop 7130 holds an Eagle Court of Honor following the dedication to formally recognize his efforts. He will join the ranks of the mere four percent of scouts that earn the coveted Eagle Scout designation.
Preparing to fly
The Eagle Scout project is the culmination of all the experiences and achievements of a scout going back to when he entered the scouting world. The candidate must complete 21 merit badges before reaching the age of 18, and then complete a project in which his major role is supervisory, said Troop 7130 Leader Randy Strickland.
For Eric, the beginning of the journey was in third grade when he joined Cub Scouts in LaCrosse. His mom, Amy Frieb, served as a den mother. Later, when Eric was old enough to become a Boy Scout, he moved his membership to the Hoisington troop.
The summers of 2010 and 2011, Eric attended the Dominican Sisters’ Peace Camp at Heartland Farm, and later returned as a junior camp counselor in 2012. Since then, he has also served as a volunteer at the farm. When it came time to choose a school, church, or community group to assist with his Eagle Project, Heartland Farm was his natural first choice.
A plan takes shape
He met with Jane Belanger, O.P., and board members of the Heartland Farm advisory committee to brainstorm a project. That’s when his idea to create an education pavilion where the Sisters could hold events like classes, programs, or picnics began to take shape. It was shortly after Heartland Farm held its 25th Anniversary Jubilee celebration in 2013. That’s when it became clear the need to have a place that was both accessible and shaded and somewhat protected from the wind.
He and his father, Tim Frieb, an Olmitz farmer, visited the Kansas Wetlands Education Center to get ideas from the educational pavilion near the nature trail. They also visited with management at Sutherlands Building Center in Great Bend, and ultimately created a plan for the pavilion. It would include rectangular covered space with plenty of room to accommodate 50 people, plus a shed to provide storage and some protection from the wind. The pavilion has overhead lighting and plenty of electricity outlets which will come in handy when the Sisters use the space for catered events.
When he presented his project idea to Strickland, he was advised that it would be a huge undertaking, but it was ultimately given the green light. Right away, Frieb began working on gathering estimates and creating a budget so he could raise the nearly $17,000 it would take to build the pavilion.
Learning about grants
He met with Cris Collier, president of the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau. She has been instrumental in helping Heartland Farm increase its presence as an agritourism destination. She helped him identify a state grant that would have provided the majority of his funding. What was at the time considered a sure bet turned out to be his first turn-down. But, the experience and the information he’d collected made writing additional grants easier, and with the help of Amy and the Golden Belt Community Foundation, he found a handful of sources that awarded the majority of the money needed.
He received two grants from $5,000 , one from the Elaine and Glenn Mull Family Fund and one from the Kansas Health Foundation Children’s Health Endowment Fund. A $2,000 grant came from the Herman Hoffman Interest at Trinity Lutheran Church of Otis. $1,500 The Raymond and Viola Wagner Family Fund awarded $1,500 to the project. Frieb also met with businesses and individuals in Great Bend and Hoisington to raise the additional funds needed. In all, $16,725 was raised.
More than money
Not all the help came in the form of cash. Daniel Snyder of Rock Solid donated the labor for the concrete foundation, and Waters True Value donated use of the heavy equipment needed to prepare for the pavilion foundation. Friends also pitched in, offering tools and expertise. Eric and the Dominican Sisters of Peace also called upon Larned Correctional Facility. Larned State Prison, Sgt. Brian Prescott arranged to have four to five prisoners plus himself come to Heartland Farm to provide general labor free of charge. So far, 940 man hours have been expended on the project.
For Tim, the project was the first time he had to really share in the scouting experience with his son, outside of recognition ceremonies. Work on the farm was always mounting, so Amy had provided the parental guidance the dedicated scout needed to follow through on his many badge projects.
“This year, it was like it was meant to be that I was to work on this project with him,” Tim said. First, in the spring, weather kept him out of the field for a few weeks, providing a window to get ground broken and the foundation poured. Later, when he was needed to help with other aspects of the pavilion, a slowdown in farming activity again aligned with the needs of the project. And while Tim would minimize his help with the project, Eric stresses that his dad’s help was a big part of the success.
With the project more than 90 percent completed, Tim and Eric want to finish pouring the sidewalk that will provide easy access to the pavilion and, using hay bale construction techniques, create permanent seating around the outside edge of the structure. All this before school starts in a couple weeks.
Soaring ever higher
As Eric nears his 18th birthday, and enters his senior year of high school at Otis-Bison, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout has instilled in him a maturity rarely found in someone his age.
He feels a sense of achievement, and it’s taught him that it’s important to use what he’s learned and give back and to help the community. Even as an adult, he will always have a responsibility to be an Eagle Scout.
“As an Eagle Scout, you will always have the experience and the training, and you will always be obligated to use it in the community,” he said.
He knows what he’s learned will help him later in life, and he will take his experiences with him into the future. Top on his list is to continue to remain active in scouting as an adult.
“There is a huge need for dedicated adult support in Hoisington,” he noted.
Eric plans to study theology and philosophy in college, and is considering attending either Hesston College or Barton County Community College for his first two year, with hopes of transferring into the theology program at Notre Dame University later.