When Yates Kline would walk past the soccer field in his Raleigh neighborhood park, he often noticed a lot of people standing around.
That’s because there weren’t many places for parents, siblings and soccer spectators to sit, so he decided to use his Boy Scout Eagle project to remedy that.
He originally wanted to build two benches for the park, but an unusual fundraising angle sweetened his take: he sold honey his family makes themselves to friends, family and neighbors, eventually raising more than $2,000 – enough for four benches and a donation that allowed the City of Raleigh to purchase a trash receptacle for the park.
The bulk of the money came from donations, “but the honey definitely helped a lot,” said Yates, who turns 15 this week. “It was also fun because it our honey.”
The Klines are in their third year of keeping bees in their suburban backyard, and three hives produced this year’s seven-gallon harvest, all of which has been sold or given away now.
Beekeeping “goes back to my grandfather,” said Yates. When he would visit as a young child, “my grandfather would take me out to see the bees.”
Because of his early exposure, he figured, he’s never been afraid of bees. But he is, as his mom, Margaret Kline, put it, “respectful.”
“You get this false sense of they can’t do anything” to you, Yates said, when you grow up watching your grandfather walk right up to a hive with no bee suit. But Yates would always hang back a bit.
“Not scared,” he said, “but I’m not daring with the bees.”
Yates’ favorite part of beekeeping is when it’s time for the honey harvest, which he calls “the family part.”
Together, they remove racks of honeycomb from the hives, scrape the honeycomb into an extractor, strain the honey until it’s perfectly smooth and then pour it into jars.
Those jars were offered this year in return for donations to Yates’ Eagle project. When all money was in, Yates enlisted the help of fellow Scouts in Troop 395 to build and install the benches by a grassy field that’s part of Windemere Beaver Dam Park off Banbury Road.
Directing the project taught Yates a lot, he said. For starters, he opened his first checking account and had to keep track of the money coming in and going out. He also learned how to be a leader.
“You have to know how to keep everybody under control,” he said. “They have to all be on task.”
His mom was proud to see such leadership skills emerge in her son, a freshman at Broughton High.
“He’s always soft-spoken, he’s not the guy who’s going to run into a room and harangue a crowd,” Margaret Kline said. “He was able to really step up and he’s got what you’d call quiet leadership skills where he is good at getting the respect of his peers and getting them to do stuff without them feeling like he’s bossing them.”
Now that he’s got his Eagle rank (along with 26 merit badges – five more than the Eagle rank requires), he could sit back and relax. But that’s not the plan.
For the 12 fellow Scouts who helped with his project, he said, “I’m going to help each of them do theirs.” There will be a lot of time and physical labor involved, he figured, but his role will be “much more relaxed.”
Meanwhile, he’ll have a reminder just down the road of the impact an Eagle Scout project can have.
“That’s probably the best part of the project,” he said of living so close to where he put in the four benches, “being able to see grownups and kids sitting on them during soccer practice.”