Local Eagle Scout builds puppy playground at Lynchburg shelter

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong, and novelist Clive Cussler … what do these three famous men and local youth Bart Morton have in common? They all created service projects on their way to become Eagle Scouts.

Eagle Scout Bart Morton
Eagle Scout Bart Morton poses with fellow scouts Gage Ralton and Tayton Swift as they work on the new puppy playground at Lynchburg Friends of Animals. {Photo Provided}

The Boy Scouts of America launched the Eagle Scout program in 1911 to grow tomorrow’s leaders. Since it’s inception, only four percent of Scouts have earned this distinction … and only after a lengthy review process. Part of that process involves the Eagle Scout Service Project. It’s an opportunity for a Scout to blend their leadership ability with a project that benefits their community.

When Bart Morton, son of local vets Wendy and Bryant Morton, considered his Eagle Scout Service Project, he knew he wanted to do something involving animals or wildlife. Former Lynchburg Friends of Animals (LFoA) Director Laura Swinford knew Bart was on the lookout for a service project and she had something in mind … a puppy playground for the center’s shelter dogs. Swinford says improving the dog yard has been a long time center goal.

“We could never get the help or the time needed,” she says. “So as soon as I heard he needed a service project, I knew it would be a perfect fit.”

Bart, who is a senior at the Webb School in Bell Buckle, enlisted Elk River Boy Scout Troop 699, their leaders, Mark Friedman and Austin Voorhes, and two fellow Eagle Scouts – Gage Ralston and Tayton Swift – to help.

Scouts from Elk River Troop 699 and their leaders Mark Friedman and Austin Voorhees also pitched in. The group will continue work on the project this Saturday. {Photo Provided}

“Leadership is the main teaching point of the service project,” Bart says. “It’s sometimes difficult to get everyone on the same page.”

The project kicked off last Saturday and will continue this coming Saturday. Bart says most Eagle Scout Service Projects take around 100 man hours to complete and the this one’s on target to take that much time.

Even though it’s not yet complete, current LFoA Director Brandi Harrel says the shelter dogs are already loving it.

“It’s great for our dogs because it give them something to do and helps them burn off some energy,” Harrell says. “So far, even our lazy dogs enjoy the new playground. Her favorite thing is to run through the tires. I’m excited to see ow they react once it’s fully set up.”

Harrell also says the new playground helps the community because it helps them create more adoptable dogs … those who are content, trained, and socialized.

Bart, who will graduate high school in the spring, says he’s in “grind time mode” to get the Lynchburg Friends of Animals puppy playground complete because all Eagle Scout requirements need to be complete three months prior to their 18th birthday, which happens in December. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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