POF-Herbers-Richard-0548Richard Herbers comes from a long line of Boy Scouts. Joining his four brothers, father, seven uncles and seven cousins in Scouting’s highest rank of Eagle Scout, the 15-year-old Marquette University High School freshman really had to do some digging to find a project that would reflect his individuality and help him earn the rank he wanted.

A graduate of St. Monica Parish Grade School, Whitefish Bay, Herbers knew he wanted to keep his project close to home while benefiting members of his parish community. His idea? Revamp the K-4 program playground at St. Monica, an undertaking that proved to be challenging but much needed.

While Herbers formally became involved with Scouting during first grade, he had been familiar with the organization all his life because of his family’s involvement. 

“I liked the camping and the outdoor activities,” he said, explaining that tent camping is one of his favorite activities.

While earning the different badges required to reach the various scouting levels is a challenge, it’s one that comes naturally to Herbers.

“It’s not all that hard. You just have to go through the requirements,” he explained. “But they always teach you how to do all the skills and they (help) you work through it.”

People of Faith

Name: Richard Herbers 
Age: 15
Occupation: Freshman at Marquette University High School, Milwaukee
Parish: St. Monica, Whitefish Bay
Book recently read: “A Separate Peace” by John Knowles
Favorite movie: “300”
(A fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae)
Favorite quotation: “Leaders are not born, they are made by hard work.” Vince Lombardi

(Submitted photo courtesy of the Herbers family)

Friends, family, parish members and staff helped Herbers with his playground project. In the beginning, the idea was to cut down a nearby dead tree, remove the existing play structure and place mulch over the small area. As the project commenced, however, it became clear that their plans had to change.

The tree wasn’t as dead as they thought, so they trimmed it instead to increase its chances of healthy growth. The existing play structure also turned out to be in better condition than was thought, so it was kept. Alongside it, the volunteers erected a structure donated by a family in memory of their deceased son. In the end, extra mulch was spread to make the area as safe as possible, according to Herbers. In order to get the new play structure in, volunteers had to dig a 12” deep hole, which became a bit of a challenge for the many teenage boys who ventured to help.

“Most of these people, I sent a lot of e-mails asking who could come on what days, so I knew how many to expect, how much equipment to get,” he said. Chainsaws, extension ladders, rope, wheelbarrows, pliers, screwdrivers, hammers and shovels were gathered for the project, but getting the younger boys to start the work – many of whom would rather have been playing video games or listening to music than doing difficult manual labor – proved to be challenging.

“Probably getting everybody to actually do some work,” Herbers laughed, explaining the hardest part of the project.  “When everybody was working, a lot of people would slack off or just not do something because they were tired. So keeping them all doing something was a challenge.”
Keeping tabs on their whereabouts and encouraging them every step of the way was a major factor in getting the work completed, Herbers added, but in the end nearly 30 volunteers put in more than 100 hours to complete the structure.
“It was all being planned to do in one week, but then we realized that this would take too long, so we split it up into tree cutting and the mulch spreading,” he said, which allowed them to keep their deadline as well as remain organized.
“Richard, I think because of his leadership, his friends – not just scouts but others – wanted to come and help him,” said his mother, Norma Herbers. “His football coaches, his basketball coaches and people like that wanted to help him because they knew he was working on this project and he had made enough of an impression on those people in other areas, that they wanted to come and help. So, he really did a nice job of bringing not just Scouts to this, not just our troop to it, but other troops that he’s met through Scouting and other areas he’s been in.”p16-play02The existing play structure, far right, was kept, while the new play structure, far left, was donated by a parish family. the renovation of the playground was organized by Richard Herbers as his Eagle Scout project. (Submitted photo courtesy of the Herbers Family)
While Herbers has dreams of playing football at the University of Southern California and pursuing a career as an officer in the military like his grandfather, nothing is certain except his love of service for others, which Marquette University High School makes a priority for its students.
“I want to make sure that I do everything for the right judgment, not just because it will be fun or (because of) peer pressure,” Herbers explained about why service is so important for him.