Anyone who has run through the St. Croix Central school forest recently will notice a new addition to the trailhead: a trail map that was designed and installed by SCC High School student Jakob Eggen as part of his Eagle Scout Project. Eggen also organized the cleanup of the trail.

"I came up with the idea for the project because one day I was running on the school forest trail - which is located across the street from the middle school, next to the bus garage - with a couple buddies from cross country and realized it was a mess because we had to duck tree branches and hurdle thorny plants. I wanted to make it easier, not only for us to run on, but for anyone to use," Eggen said.

According to Eggen, who has been a Boy Scout since he was in third grade, cleaning up the trail included trimming tree branches and cutting up trees that had fallen on the path and moving them, which took several hours to complete. Eggen also designed, painted, dug the hole for and assembled the trail map, with the help of his father, Dan Eggen, where the trail map was cut out.

"A special shutout and thanks go to my grandpa, Steve Doll, and my dad, Dan Eggen for helping me the most on this project," Eggen said. "The days before we did the cleanup it had snowed so we had a fresh blanket of snow to trudge through while we did most of the cleanup. Also, it was quite challenging at times, but in the end it was definitely worth it."

Eggen began his project by coming up with the idea to clean the trail and add a map to the trailhead, but before he could move forward he needed to submit his proposal to his Boy Scout district and get approval from the St. Croix Central School Board. The next step was figuring out a date for the cleanup, which took place in November 2017. The final step was getting the sign made, assembled and installed. The installation step was completed on Sept. 30, 2018.

"My dad's work was pretty busy for awhile so I had to wait. So, in the meantime, I assembled the wood for the sign base and finished up the final design. Finally, my dad's work was able to squeeze in this project. Once the sign was cut out, I painted it and placed it in front of the trail. The whole project took about 54 hours, by my count, and a lot of volunteers to get done."

Although his Eagle Scout project is completed, Eggen plans to stay involved in scouting because he enjoys being part of the organization.

"I think that what got me into scouting was all of the cool activities that kids got to do such as camping, pinewood derby, model rocket launching and doing all sorts of fun outdoor activities," Eggen said. "I think that the most fun thing about scouting is camping. There are so many memories that you can make at camp and so many people that you can meet. There's also so many places to camp, like Tomahawk Scouting Reservation, Fred C. Andersen Scout Camp, the Boundary Waters, and a famous scouting ranch that I can't wait to go to this summer: Philmont Scout Ranch."

Eggen's trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico involves backpacking through the desert for a little more than a week with a group of fellow Scouts.

"Our troop has a lot of fun and it has been a blessing being part of Troop 161. Scouting has taught me many things. It has taught me life skills like cooking, CPR, finance management, being prepared, communication/people skills, camping skills, work ethic, and, what I think is the most important, leadership skills," Eggen said. "In fact, I was chosen to go to a week-long camp dedicated to leadership training and then, I was chosen to go back the next year as a member of the staff. There are so many different aspects of life that Boy Scouts has helped me through and I've loved every second of it."

Along with his trip this summer, Eggen plans to continue earning merit badges so he can secure the three Eagle Palms.

"You need to get an additional five merit badges for each palm after the 21 required for Eagle. I have enough to get the first palm and need nine more merit badges to get the next two palms," Eggen said. "I am also now the 'Junior Assistant Scout Master' for our troop which is a rare position in any troop because you must be an Eagle Scout to have it."