Jordan Malikowski leads project to clean up trails
by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Jordan Malikowski likely never dreamed when he joined Cub Scouting that he would one day earn his Eagle Scout award. At the age of 15, he has done just that.
He joined as a Wolf cub in 2006, when he was in second grade.
“I thought it would be really fun,” he said. “As it progressed, I decided to go on to Boy Scouts (Troop 51 in Little Falls) because it would be really good on a job resumé and there would be bigger challenges and more fun activities.”
Malikowski’s favorite Cub Scout memories include many Pinewood Derbies.
“It was always really fun looking at all the different cars,” he said. “My dad, Wayne, helped a lot.”
His mom, Cheryl, has been a very involved scout volunteer as well.
Another awesome memory for Malikowski involved an all-night event at Camp Ripley when the scouts got to use tank simulators and later played dodgeball all night.
As a Boy Scout, he remembers working hard on his swimming merit badge at Many Point Scout Camp near Park Rapids.
“It was a windy day and the waves were really big,” he said.
He earned the badge.
While working on his Citizenship in the Community badge, he had to do some public speaking.
“I’m not much of a public speaker, so that one was really hard,” he said. “It was just our troop while we were camping, but it was still nerve-wracking.”
Another of the badges required for Eagle is personal finance. Malikowski kept a blog on how much he spent and on how much his parents spent on him over a period of two weeks.
“I didn’t realize they spent that much on us,” he said.
Malikowski had earned 27 merit badges prior to his Eagle project, but there were still some things to learn — some challenges to meet — in completing his Eagle Scout project.
He was ready to consider a project this past spring. His first idea didn’t work out. After a 5K run in June, Cross Country Coach Michael Marschel asked if maybe Malikowski would trim some vegetation on the trails.
“I expanded that to include making benches, spreading wood chips on the trail and adding informational posts,” he said.
An entire application had to be filled out, giving exact details of the work to be done, outlining supplies and manpower needed along with a timeline for completion of the project.
Malikowski went to Principal Joel Swenson for approval first, since the proposed project was on school grounds.
Next, Troop Leader Jason Borash gave his approval, followed by Marschel and then Troop Committee Chair Don Schlichting.
Royalton Lumber and Hardware donated materials for the benches. One bench was made and donated by Malikowski’s grandpa, Jim Kloss.
Wood chips were donated by Mark Hegna with Dynamic Tree and Landscaping in Pierz and Malikowski’s uncle, Dave Malikowski, with Diggers, Inc. in Rice. The signs were made by Trevor Studanski from Absolute Sourcing in Minneapolis.
Ten people gathered on July 28 to assemble the benches. On the project date of Aug. 11, 27 people came together to help Malikowski.
“We trimmed trees and bushes and put the refuse in Royalton’s compost site,” he said. “The trail is a large loop that is one and a half miles long, with a smaller loop inside.”
There was an unexpected glitch in the execution of his plans, however.
“The week before the project, we realized we needed more wood chips than we had,” Malikowski said. “We would have been in trouble if it weren’t for my uncle. He found someone giving away free wood chips.”
Malikowski was relieved when the project was done, but understood the skills he had built while doing it.
“I learned more leadership skills,” he said. “It was about decision-making, what we were going to do if something went wrong.
“Teamwork was probably our troop’s biggest challenge because our troop has a lot of different personalities,” he said. “Now we are working together more efficiently and getting along better.”
There were times when Malikowski had been tempted to quit Scouts, but by sticking with it he reaped huge rewards.
“Right after I joined I thought about quitting. I didn’t have close friends in Scouts — I was the only one from Royalton,” he said. “But for anyone thinking of dropping out of scouts — keep going; never give up. Once you get there, it feels like you really achieved something.”