By Dr. Byron D. Augustin
Tucked into a quiet neighborhood in north San Antonio, Texas, Scouting and public education merge into a wonderful success story for the elementary school students of North East Independent School District.
In 1998, Michael Bailey, a middle school teacher, decided to pursue a new method of teaching Texas history and geography. He purchased an early 1800s log cabin to create a center where students could learn about pioneer life in Texas.
One year later, one of his students asked to complete an Eagle Scout project for the Mill Springs Cabin educational center. That was the first of 24 Eagle Scout projects dedicated to enhancing the hands-on learning center.
Today, the site features 10 centers covering almost two acres of land. Scouts from five different troops have completed their Eagle Scout projects there.
“Several of the projects, such as bridges and boardwalks, made it possible for visiting students to move between exhibits quickly and safely,” Bailey says.
Worktables were built for a Native American rock art exhibit. Another project introduced benches for students to sit on during historical presentations. Daniel Fuhrmann created a mid-1800s replica of a local jail. Naeole Nathaniel took on building a wooden water tank exhibit.
William Melling thought that his project was the most fun to make. He mixed straw, clay, water and cow manure to hand-make 254 adobe bricks. The bricks were used to build a Native American oven called a horno.
For two decades, these projects have enriched the learning experiences of more than 85,000 fourth graders. Visitors arrive from not only San Antonio, but also Houston, Dallas and neighboring cities. International students from Japan, Germany and South Korea have also visited the Mill Springs Cabin.
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