Carnegie youth going to the dogs with his Eagle Scout project

Megan Guza
| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A Carnegie Boy Scout is using his Eagle Scout project to help both visitors and vegetation in Carnegie Park.

Gabriel Wilcox, 13, a member of Boy Scout Troop 831, is raising funds to provide benches and tree-protection in the Carnegie Park dog park.

He is calling the project “Keep Your Paws Off the Trees, Butt Have a Seat.”

Gabriel said he noticed the trees in the dog park needed help last year when he assisted the borough's Shade Tree Commission with its tree inventory.

“I noticed that those trees were dying because the dogs were peeing on them,” he said. “We want to put up tree cages to keep the dogs away.”

The tree cages will be small fence structures that wrap around the bottom of the tree, keeping the dogs from doing their business directly on the trees.

Gabriel's mother, Bridget VanDorn, a Shade Tree Commission member, said the cages will allow the young trees to become established.

In addition, she said, Home Depot has agreed to donate half of the building supplies for the cages. Volunteers from the troop will help build the cages.

To become an Eagle Scout – the highest rank attainable in Boy Scouts – scouts must earn 21 merit badges, reach certain ranks throughout the program, hold leadership positions, reach a certain level of service hours and complete a service project.

The dog park project is Wilcox's service project.

Gabriel, whose family has dogs, said he noticed something else during his visits to the park: People were bringing their own chairs and sitting on the ground, as the park has just two benches in each of the two sections.

The benches are expensive, he said, so he came up with the idea of allowing donors to sponsor them: For $350, benches can have a family's name or bear a memorial plaque.

The project will cost about $2,500. Through online fundraising, Gabriel has raised just under $700.

He said he wants to help the dog park.

“I like to go to the dog park, and the trees just look bad,” he said. “It helps people out — I think they would like to have a place to sit.”

At 13, Gabriel is young to be pursuing his Eagle project — most Scouts are around 17 when they receive their award.

VanDorn said that the family has always been involved in scouting, and Gabriel is the third out of his brothers to work toward the rank of Eagle Scout.

“He's been involved since he was 3,” she said. “It's always been a part of our lives, and it's been a part of his life as long as he can remember.”

She said she is proud to watch him work on the project at such a young age.

“It's nice to watch his growth as he takes on something on his own and takes charge of the project,” she said. “I'd like to see him leave his own little legacy in Carnegie.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or

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