Montgomery Scout Beautifies VFW Landscaping

Montgomery’s Andrew Shroba hopes to earn the rank of Eagle Scout and has found a way to meet one of his requirements by adding a bit of embellishment to the VFW post in his hometown.

The 15-year-old Boy Scout said he had always enjoyed gardening projects and chose to highlight what he said ‘is our usual hangout’.

“I noticed that they (the VFW) were not on top and I wanted to help them. They help us a lot and I love doing landscaping and working like that so I took on this project,” Andrew said.

The new landscaping project at the entrance to the VFW was completed in mid-August, he said. It consisted of replacing the wooden planks around the perimeter, planting five box trees and five rose bushes as well as adding new rocks and peat.

George Maher, an employee of Schaefer Greenhouses in Montgomery, said he heard about the project after Andrew arrived “to see if we could donate some land for a project at the VFW”.

“I got the note and went to get the soil and recommended that he add some mushroom compost which was needed,” Maher said. “All in all, we gave six cubic meters of soil and two cubic meters of compost and Andrew needed more. I called the folks at Montgomery Landscape where we source our soil from and they were happy to give a little extra.

Maher said the young scout “came with his mother and got some roses and stuff, then went with his father on a second trip to some plantations that they thought they could use there.”

“They put it all in the VFW and I’ve been there a couple of times and seen the project and I just think it’s one of those things where a scout and the VFW…all we need is a baby and an apple pie and you really have a piece of America in it,” Maher said.

The project lasted about two months, with additional time needed to make calls to organize other elements of the work.

Andrew’s father, Kevin Shroba, said from the start that he thought the project “was a great idea” and was happy VFW was selected.

“The VFW is a chartered organization for Boy Scouts and there are great role models for them,” Shroba said. “We had just moved from a church where we had previously been licensed, so I think the vets were happy to see them (the scouts) and the kids were happy to see older gentlemen to look up to. During COVID the VFW gave us a place to work and it was just an opportunity for Andrew to give back to this organization which helps his troop.

Shroba said he was involved in “driving my son”, but adds that most of the planning and execution was done by his son.

“Andrew was throwing ideas back at me, but it was his project to handle with design,” he said. “I have no landscape experience.

“Andrew drew up a plan of the facility himself and visited local businesses to seek donations and gather the materials,” he said. “He coordinated his work teams and made schedules for other Scouts and parents to come and help.”

Shroba said that during the project his son learned “first and foremost communication skills and learned how to deal and talk with different people”.

“Andrew has worked with people he’s never spoken to before, so there’s the communication skills and then the project management part, being able to coordinate different deliveries and keep things together,” he said. -he declares. “He encountered unexpected circumstances and delays, things for which there is no way to plan for them.”

Andrew said that overall the project went pretty much as planned, other than “it’s a bit more work to line up all the materials and delivery dates.”

“Overall everything went well, but some of the plants I was supposed to receive failed and I had to come up with another plan to get those items,” he said.

Maher thinks the project is a real boost for the community and “should be celebrated.”

“I worked in corporate America for a while, then I worked in nonprofits for many years. When there are young men and young women who are visionary enough to see this stuff, it should be appreciated somehow,” Maher said.

Andrew said he was still working on maintaining the new landscaping.

“I’m proud of myself and how I’ve lined up all this work and made VFW look like it is,” he said. “I come here every day to hose down or I’ll let the VFW know if I can’t so they can hose me down.”

David Sharos is a freelance journalist for The Beacon-News.

Terri S. Tomasini