Life-Saving Eagle Scout Project Helps Student Win Coveted Leadership Scholarship
When Michael Heck began his Eagle Scout project during his sophomore year of high school, he was simply looking to help local fire companies. He never imagined his project could one day save lives.
Heck ’22 is one of six recipients of the Leadership Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship awarded to students who have shown outstanding leadership in their high school careers.
“The Leadership Scholarship has been a tremendous help to me,” says the exploratory studies major. “It really has put in perspective what my project means to the community and the public good.”
Growing up in rural Myerstown, Pennsylvania, Heck knew that low water supplies could be crippling to surrounding communities. So he decided to do something about it.
He put together plans to build a dry fire hydrant, an unpressurized pipe installed in a pond or lake to help fight fires in places that normal hydrants can’t reach.
To get his project off the ground, Heck had to first win approval from his scoutmaster. He then selected a location and served as a liaison between the landowners and Jackson Township.
Once the landowners were on board, Heck traveled to Harrisburg with his Eagle Scout advisor to present his plans to the Department of Environmental Protection.
From there, he presented to the township board of supervisors, which unanimously agreed to fund the project and to submit the required permit to the state on Heck’s behalf.
“I thought I was going to have a much harder time but every person I talked to was intrigued or interested in what I was doing,” Heck says. “Talking with these people really put things in perspective for how the community is so supportive. That’s what really drove my project.”
Once the state signed off on the permit and the hydrant was in place, Heck rounded up his fellow scouts to help install steel bollards at the site and worked with local businesses that had offered to paint signs to mark the hydrant. When it came time to test the final product, Heck was surprised to find that it worked even better than he had anticipated.
“It could flow a certain amount of gallons per minute which actually exceeded the targeted amount that I expected. We engineered that specifically so that it produced a high amount of flow water that could be provided to a certain square footage of a barn.”
The hydrant has been in service for about a year and a half and it’s already making a big impact. The Boy Scouts of America even recognized Heck for having the best Eagle Scout Project in the Pennsylvania Dutch Council.
“The project taught me to appreciate what I have because this is a once-and-a-lifetime opportunity. The amount of support that you have is so encouraging. And knowing that this is going to be something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life, it’s just so moving.”