HARLINGEN — Jacob Garcia wants to hone the skills he’s learned as a Boy Scout to leave his mark at Hugh Ramsey Nature Park.
Last week, the city backed the project he proposed as he works his way toward the rank of Eagle Scout.
Since first grade, Jacob has climbed the ranks in scouting.
Now, he plans to undertake his Eagle Scout project to help teach younger scouts the skills he has learned.
“I want to do something that will last,” Jacob, 16, a junior at Harlingen High School South, said yesterday as he stood at the project site.
“I want to do something that will make an impact and last for generations.”
At school, he plays football and soccer on the field and cello in its orchestra.
He also serves on the Parent Teacher Student Association.
But Jacob’s love for the park led him to tackle the big project.
“I like to come here and enjoy the nature,” he said. “It’s one of the few places around here for that.”
The project still needs final approval from the Boy Scouts before it can commence.
If approved, Jacob will receive help on his project.
At last week’s meeting, commissioners asked Jacob to work with Texas master naturalists to assure his project benefits the park that volunteers have turned into a thriving branch of the World Birding Center.
The project focuses on reviving a man-made pond that has dried near the pavilion standing at the park’s entrance.
As part of the project, Jacob plans to build a 10-foot by 10-foot pergola on a wooden deck on the pond.
The project’s blueprints call for a 4-foot by 16-foot bridge and a 4-foot retaining wall designed to hold water in the pond.
Jacob plans to use the park’s water system to fill the pond.
“This project will increase wildlife activity by supporting a habitat for the wildlife and beautifying an already-amazing park,” Jacob told commissioners in the Feb. 21 meeting.
To enhance the pond, Jacob plans to introduce plants such as mosaic water lilies and water locus while stocking flathead minnows as a food source for fish.
He said Boy Scouts will help him with the project whose construction is expected to begin late this summer.
“I like the project,” Javier Mendez, the city’s parks director, said yesterday. “It’s just a concept. It most definitely has to be refined.”
Mendez said he wants to make sure the bridge is structurally sound.
“What concerns me is the bridge,” Mendez said. “We have to make sure it will carry the weight of the general public.”
Mendez said Jacob will be careful in clearing any grasses at the project site.
“I just want to make sure we plant the right plants and take into consideration what we can clear and what we can’t clear,” Mendez said. “We have to walk the area and talk about specifics.”
To fine-tune the project, Jacob will work with volunteers who have worked for more than 15 years to turn the park — once a city dump — into part of the World Birding Center.
“They can help advise me with any changes,” Jacob said. “I know they’ve put a lot of work into this park.”
Christina Mild, a Texas Master Naturalist who works with the Arroyo Colorado Audubon Society to enhance the park, said the volunteers plan to help Jacob with the project.
“It’s wonderful when young kids want to be involved,” Mild said. “We’ll try our best to steer him in a direction that would be helpful.”