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Bright Future: Local scout pursues Eagle rank with serenity garden

Jay Vaughan sits on a bench in the gazebo located behind Riverland Medical Center in Ferriday. The benches and gazebo are part of an unfinished project to install a serenity garden behind the hospital to offer a place of relaxation for visitors, patients and hospital staff. (Mary Kathryn Carpenter | The Natchez Democrat)
Jay Vaughan sits on a bench in the gazebo located behind Riverland Medical Center in Ferriday. The benches and gazebo are part of an unfinished project to install a serenity garden behind the hospital to offer a place of relaxation for visitors, patients and hospital staff. (Mary Kathryn Carpenter | The Natchez Democrat)

BY MARY KATHRYN CARPENTER

NATCHEZ — Jay Vaughan is looking to soar into the highest rank achievable as a member of the Boy Scouts of America by helping out his community.

Vaughan is seeking the rank of an Eagle Scout after spending six years in the program. To reach that rank, Vaughan must complete a community service project.

Vaughan has chosen to create a serenity garden behind Riverland Medical Center in Ferriday, and has big plans for the project.

“We have already poured some concrete, set up the gazebo and the inmates at the correctional facility built some benches for us,” Vaughan said. “We still plan to paint the gazebo and benches and add a walking trail, a butterfly garden, a birdbath, birdhouses and do other landscaping.”

Vaughan’s troop leader, Freddie Voss, could not be more impressed with Vaughan’s efforts.

“He has taken on one of the biggest Eagle Scout projects any of my scouts have done,” Voss said. “He is one of the best scouts I’ve had.”

Vaughan does not take all of the credit for the garden, however.

“The ladies with the Ferriday Garden Club have been very helpful,” Vaughan said. “They drew up the original plans for the project back in May. The inmates at the correctional facility helped out by building the gazebo and the benches. My job is mostly to coordinate and supervise everything.”

Vaughan has put approximately 20 hours into the project and expects to spend many more on it.

Vaughan hopes to have the project complete by October, because that is when he turns 18, and after a scout turns 18, he is no longer eligible to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

“It means a lot that Jay is doing this, especially to the community and hospital services,” said Ferriday Garden Club president Lena Bateman. “Jay has been real instrumental in the work. Hopefully, (the garden) will lift patients’ spirits and help them heal.”

Vaughan must also achieve other goals outside of finishing his community service project to become an Eagle Scout.

Other requirements to receive the honor include earning 21 merit badges and spending 20 nights camping.

Voss estimates that it takes a minimum of four years to achieve all of the requirements to become an Eagle Scout, but the average time is five or six years.

Outside of Boy Scouts, Vaughan is a member of many other organizations, sports and clubs.

“Jay has always been involved in everything we do,” Voss said. “He is also involved in a lot at school.”

The Cathedral High School rising senior is a member of the track and cross-country teams, a member of the Peer Ministry team, National Honors Society, Science Quest and the math and science team.

While he does not know where he will attend college yet, Vaughan does know he plans to be a doctor.

Vaughan is the son of Susan and Chris Vaughan.