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Fox Chapel Area junior reaches Eagle Scout status

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Ryan Breen
Ryan Breen

A court of honor will be convened for Ryan Breen on Saturday.

The Fox Chapel Area High School student, 16, will be recognized for achieving the Boy Scouts' highest rank, Eagle Scout. The event will celebrate qualities that display the meaning of scouting's ideals.

“I look to the (scout) law. That sums it up,” Breen said.

A scout aims to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Breen recently organized a troop Olympics with events such as sock skating, basket curling and dodgeball.

“I've proved I'm able to lead people and plan things,” he said.

Completing the Eagle Scout requirements builds that confidence. Along with earning the prerequisite badges, the final hurdle is organizing a community-service project.

Breen tapped into a national movement to provide nesting habitats for chimney swifts. The chimney swift is a bird, about 6 inches long, and classified as “near threatened.”

There were many steps to building the chimney, which is a square structure that can house about seven bird families. Breen began by reading and learning about the project, as well as choosing a site. Then came the lists — needed materials, expected costs, a schedule for workers and a timeline.

“It was demanding and required a lot out of me,” Breen said.

After presenting his plans to the scouts, Breen began the first phase of prep work. He said it was a chance to work closely with his father.

Then he had work sessions at his home. The tower was built in pieces. The final phase was at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve in Fox Chapel, where the chimney was built.

One of the requirements for the project is to organize and direct volunteers, and Breen had the backing of his Troop 380.

“I had lots of support from the troop,” Breen said.

There were whole Saturdays the scouts and other volunteers worked.

Breen's mother helped organize the breakfasts and lunches.

What came out of this effort was a lasting addition to the community — a place for birds and a place for learning about them at an informational kiosk on the tower.

The final part of Breen's Eagle Scout project was his presentation before a board of review.

“It definitely made me nervous,” he said. “They ask you a lot of tough questions. I guess in the end, it was worth it.”

Sharon Drake is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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