Hunter Michaelson's Eagle Scout project benefitting Sherida

By ROBERT HUSSEMAN

Of the News-Register

Before Hunter Michaelson dons a Sheridan baseball uniform this spring, he will have already made a significant contribution to the program.

Hunter, a 15-year-old sophomore, is a member of Boy Scout Troop No. 215 (serving the communities of Sheridan and Willamina) and has been involved with the Boy Scouts of American since he was a first-grader. In June 2014, he received approval to begin an Eagle Scout service project in his quest to attain the Boy Scouts’ highest honor.

“I’ve been ready for my project since I was 13,” Hunter says. “The rest of my projects that I’ve been doing, they kept having budget problems. I finally found this one, which – my passion is, I love baseball. I wanted to give back to my coach since he’s done a whole lot for me.”

Hunter is raising funds and coordinating an effort to install permanent bleacher seating at the Sheridan High School baseball field. The field is used by the Spartans’ varsity and junior varsity teams and Tri-Cities Little League squads, which Hunter has played for since he was six. “He’s giving back to two programs that helped him,” Hunter’s mother, Leigh Anne Michaelson, says.

“We’re certainly in need of new seating out there,” Sheridan baseball coach Todd Peterson said. “Right now we have a mobile set of bleachers that gets put behind a backstop on an uneven grass and mud area. That generally might be able to seat eight to ten people.”

If more spectators come out, metal benches are situated along the first- and third-base lines, behind the backstop.

“It makes for a pretty poor viewing experience for fans,” Peterson said. “What Hunter’s doing should not only be a big help to the program but also be a big help for the fans who come out to watch.”

To date, Hunter has raised $1,000 toward a goal of $3,500 for seating behind the baseball field’s backstop. Brian O’Neil Construction of Willamina is donating concrete for a six-inch-thick pad for the bleachers to rest on. According to Peterson, the bleachers will allow 30 spectators to comfortably watch Sheridan baseball.

According to Dave Thurman, the Troop 215 Scoutmaster, scouts who undertake Eagle Scout projects are not allowed to spend their own money on a project or perform any of the labor. “They don’t physically do the work,” Thurman says. “They manage the work.”

Attaining Eagle Scout rank goes above and beyond the service project, the most famous aspect of the process. Scouts must first attain the rank of Life Scout and assume a leadership position within the troop for a period of six months. Scouts must also accrue at least 21 merit badges in a variety of disciplines; Hunter says that he has around 40 to his name.

Hunter’s skills have developed beyond the scope of merit badges. In December 2014, Hunter presented his Eagle Scout project to the West Valley Kiwanis Club and the Sheridan Chamber of Commerce with the hope of attracting funds. Public speaking, he admits, is not his strongest attribute, but he persevered.

“It was really nerve-wracking, going to most of the businesses,” Hunter says. “Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis – those big groups are the hardest. Some of them are really strict. You have to know what you’re talking about.”

“The point of the project is to develop leadership,” says Leigh Anne Michaelson, one of the Troop 215 leaders. “They have to lead people. It’s been really wonderful. At first, you could see how he’d get kind of shy, but as he gets going he’s been rolling.”

Hunter hopes to finish the project by the end of the 2014-15 school year. The first day of baseball practice is Monday, March 2. Hunter was a corner outfielder for the Spartans’ junior-varsity squad in 2014; he is angling for a spot in the varsity lineup this season.

“He’s one of those kids that you kind of want everyone in your program to emulate in terms of his work ethic and his ability to be a good teammate,” Peterson says. “I’ve really admired the way he’s worked as a freshman and in the offseason trying to improve. He works really hard and he loves the game.”

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