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?Before?: City of Austin Clerk-Treasurer Chris Fugate, Austin High School teachers Nancy Stearns and Steve Plasse, and Austin Beautification Committee member Janie Alexander stand on the site that YGC members Isaak Mount, Lauren Turner and Jakeb Watts chose for the YGC?s beautification project.

Through a lot of planning and many people and organizations working together, the Scott County Youth Grantmaking Council (?YGC?) recently completed a big community service project at the new walking trail at Austin Park.

The YGC, a program of the Scott County Community Foundation, involves 76 youth in grades 5-12 who learn about philanthropy. They learn about the needs of the community and the importance of giving their ?time, talent and treasure? when they complete many community service projects throughout the year.

Community Foundation Executive Director Jaime Toppe approached the YGC Community Service Committee Chairperson, Emma Waskom, about doing a project that would have a long-lasting impact for Scott County. The YGC decided to install a park bench, do landscaping, and place tree species signs throughout the park as a learning guide for visitors. Originally intended for completion on Earth Day in April, it was instead completed as part of United Way of Scott County?s Day of Caring on May 20.

YGC members met with City Clerk-Treasurer Chris Fugate and Janie Alexander with the Austin Beautification Committee to determine where the bench should be placed and what kind of flowers should be planted. Alexander suggested different types that would bloom throughout the seasons, and using boxwoods as a border.

?We couldn?t have done a project this large without the efforts of so many people,? said Toppe. ?The park bench was generously donated, personalized and delivered by Total Concepts of Design. The Austin Beautification Committee has an endowment fund at the Community Foundation, and awarded a grant of $338 to help pay for the project.?

?This is an awesome project!? stated Alexander. ?It sets a wonderful example to others.?

?The tree signs were another big project within itself,? continued Toppe. YGC members met with Austin High School teachers Steve Plasse and Nancy Stearns to first identify the different species that were located throughout the trail. Then, Scottsburg High School teacher Kyle Mullins agreed to have his Advanced Manufacturing class at the Mid-America Science Park engrave the signs and donate their time as community service. YGC member Eliza Mount, who is a student in the class, took the lead on the sign production.

?It was really neat to be a part of this project from both perspectives,? said Mount. ?It allowed me to see the processes of planning and organizing a project and then also manufacturing, assembling, and installing the product. It was a great experience planning and putting this project together. It?s even better knowing that we?re doing this as a community service project.?

Each sign has an etching of the tree, the scientific name, and a short description. There are 24 signs that will be installed throughout the walking trail, and also include three poison plant signs that are located at the beginning of the trail. Plasse and Stearns then met with YGC members again a couple days before the project to stake out the locations for each sign, with Plasse donating a couple more trees for the bench area.

Saturday morning?s weather threatened to cancel the progress, but the YGC didn?t let that stop them from finishing the project. Scotts Ace Hardware delivered the plants, and the City of Austin delivered a big pile of topsoil and mulch. The rain had soaked the topsoil, resulting in lots of muddy shoes as the youth worked, but they persevered to the end. YGC members spent the cloudy morning spreading the topsoil and mulch, and planting the flowers and shrubs. Coach Mullins arrived with the signs and YGC members helped attached to the sturdy wood posts and place throughout the trail. After a long morning of working hard, the project was completed, save for the installation of the signs that City of Austin employees will finish.

?Planting is something I have never done before,? said Waskom. ?But this project was really cool because all of us will be able to come back in five or 10 years and visually see our impact on the Austin walking trail. It was a lot of hard work, but I?m really glad I got to help.?

Austin High School senior Jakeb Watts was involved with the project from the beginning, helping to decide on placement, staking out signs and completing the project. ?I am very proud to have had the opportunity to do this service project at Austin,? said Watts. ?It really means a lot to me to be able to contribute to my hometown and I?m glad that I was able to leave something behind that will be there for a long time.?

?I told the youth that is something they could potentially show their children one day when they visit the park,? said Toppe. ?I love that this is youth-led, from making the decisions on placement of everything, to manufacturing and assembling the signs, and then doing the actual labor for the project. Each YGC member involved in the project can be proud of being a part of something that will bring enjoyment to many for years to come!?

?Being the Community Service Chair of the YGC has been an awesome experience for me,? said Waskom, who is a graduating senior at Scottsburg High School. ?But it wouldn?t be possible without everyone on the Community Service Committee. I am so thankful for not only our project we completed at the Austin walking trail, but all the projects we have completed. It is great to see everyone working together to make our community a better place and I?m so glad I can say I?ve had a small part in this.?

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YGC members stand at the site before they work hard shoveling a very wet pile of topsoil and planting flowers! Shown are Bryton Richey, Hayden Asdell, Sarah Thomas, Sara Edwards, Lyla Waskom, Brinley Soloe, Isaak Mount, Emma Waskom, Justice Gabbard, Lexi Edwards, Gavin Borden, Jackson Campbell, Jakeb Watts, Nick Henderson and Lucas Toppe.

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Scottsburg High School teacher Kyle Mullins and Austin High School student Troy Riley spent the morning assembling the posts for the signs.

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The park bench was generously donated by Total Concepts of Design.

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Almost finished! City of Austin employees will finish installing the signs in the ground.

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Poison ivy is rampant throughout the trail, and this sign will educate the public on what to watch for. There are also signs showing poison hemlock and stinging nettle, other common poisonous plants in Indiana but not found on the walking trail.

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