ST. LEONARD, MD – Since he was a Cub Scout, achieving the  highest rank in the Boy Scout program, Eagle Scout, was always his dream.  Brandon Gaines, a 16-year-old Huntingtown High School student recently  completed his Eagle Scout project, redesigning and building five sifting screens  and bases for archaeologists at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation  Laboratory (MAC Lab) located at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum (JPPM).

The Eagle Scout rank is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scout program of the Boy Scouts of America. Since its introduction in 1911, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than 2 million young men. Requirements include earning a number of merit badges and demonstrating Scout spirit, service, and leadership. This includes an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages. The culmination of the candidate’s years of training, the Eagle Scout project demonstrates leadership of others while performing a project for the benefit of his community.

While attending a camp at JPPM in pursuit of his archaeological merit badge, Gaines notice that the dilapidated sifter screens at the Smith St. Leonard historical site were in desperate need of renovation and improvement. Gaines had his Eagle project idea; he would build new sifter screens and bases. “I’ve always loved history and this was the perfect opportunity for me to contribute something that would help us learn more about our history,” said Gaines. (As earth is excavated from an excavation unit, it is brought to a sifter screen, where it is processed through a mesh screen. Processing soil through a sifter screen recovers artifacts which may not have been noted during hand excavation.)

Gaines’ first step was to get approval from MAC Lab Deputy Director, Ed Chaney. He then put the idea into a proposal submitted to the Eagle Board. The proposal included what the project would look like, materials needed, the cost, how many hours it would take, and how many people would be needed to help. Once the proposal was approved, he wrote out a final plan that outlined the project execution stage in detail, this included exact dates, times and the steps needed to complete the project.

Materials for the sifter screens and base were purchased with donations made by friends and family and the generous donation of materials from Dunkirk Supply and Dunkirk Hardware.
“The main part of the Eagle project is taking leadership so when I had my Eagle Scout work days I had to direct people from my troop who came to help. However, it’s not limited to people just inside the troop, I had my brother, father, and grandfather there as well,” said Gaines. It took almost 60 hours to complete the 5 sifter screens and base.

The final step to receive his Eagle Scout badge is to complete paperwork describing how the project went in terms of his leadership abilities, final cost, and hours spent on the project. Additional recognition can be earned through Eagle Palms, awarded for completing additional tenure, leadership, and merit badge requirements.

While Gaines has a myriad of interests, his future aspiration is to become an aerospace engineer.