Eagle Scout project gives spectators a place to perch


July 22, 2002|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EVERY TIME Andrew Bechta passes the Howard County Youth Program complex on U.S. 40, he feels a sense of accomplishment.

For his Eagle Scout project, Andrew, 16, created a row of benches for Field 11.

On summer nights, he often sees spectators enjoying the seats as they watch baseball games.

"We live near that field and you can see the benches from the road," said his mother, Bernadette Bechta. "So every night you can go by and see people sitting there."

Andrew, who will be a senior at Centennial High School in the fall, began searching for an Eagle Scout project last summer. "I knew I wanted to give back to something that gave to me, so I made a list of a couple of choices I had," he said.

"I chose HCYP because baseball is what I love most."

He started playing T-ball with the youth program when he was 4 or 5 years old, he said. Now he plays third base for the Centennial team and the Columbia Reds.

Andrew walked the fields of the sports complex until he found his project. Field 11 had no seating, so he decided to build and install benches.

With the help of Department of Recreation and Parks officials, Andrew broke ground on the project in early February and finished by the end of the month. He had several regular helpers, plus some who helped once or twice, he said. His father, Matthew Bechta, also helped. The county provided a mentor, Jeff Hull, who worked closely with Andrew.

Eagle Scout is the highest rank in Scouting. To qualify, Scouts must rise through the system, meeting requirements and demonstrating skills along the way. One of the Eagle Scout requirements is completing a project that requires at least 100 man-hours.

Andrew's project took more than 150, he said. He expects to find out within a few months whether he qualified for the honor of Eagle Scout. A few weeks ago, Andrew, a member of Troop 944, passed the Scoutmaster conference, a crucial step in which the Scoutmaster helps the Scout assess his accomplishments. This takes place before the Scout can rise to a new rank.

"It's mostly formalities from here," Andrew said.

But the award isn't the only satisfaction he gets from the project. The three benches that he helped create seat about 20 people, with a retaining wall providing more seating for young children, he said.

He loves to see people enjoying the ball games, especially on summer nights.

Another honor

Kavita Shukla, a recent Centennial High School graduate, has collected another accolade. Kavita has two patents for food packaging treated with the spice fenugreek, which appears to slow spoilage. She recently won an invention apprenticeship from the Lemelson-MIT Program, which allowed her to work at an applied research center in California.

Now she is one of 60 winners of the Lucent Technologies Global Science Scholars Program. Half of the winners are from the United States.

As winner, Kavita receives $5,000 and a trip to the five-day Global Science Scholars Summit at Lucent's world headquarters in Murray Hill, N.J. The summit will allow her and other winners to learn about communications technology from top scientists and researchers.

Kavita plans to attend Harvard University in the fall.

Travel medicine

Seems as if somebody should have thought of this before: a center for wilderness and travel medicine, which focuses on the specific medical needs of travelers.

The center recently was founded at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore and is run by Dr. Michael Zimring of Ellicott City. It offers travel-related consultations, immunizations, and coordination of emergency care and evacuation. It helps clients combat travel-related maladies such as upset stomach, altitude sickness and tropical diseases.

The center is at the medical center in downtown Baltimore. Information: 800-MDMercy or www.mdmercy.com.

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