Thanks to the efforts of a local 17-year-old Boy Scout and his friends the city of Stephenville’s public parks have received a facelift of sorts.

On Saturday, Steven Gibbons, a candidate for the prestigious Eagle Scout rank from Boy Scouts of America, led a dozen friends to complete his service project by refurbishing the city parks’ trash receptacles.

Taking about three hours to complete, Gibbons and crew washed and repainted more than 45 trash barrels that are a fixture in both Stephenville City Park and Jaycee Park.

A member of Stephenville’s Troop 18 and a Boy Scout for the past five years, Gibbons said he sought a project that would benefit the public and after speaking with city staff, he found the perfect undertaking.

“Mainly, it had to be a project in which I could provide leadership to the other Scouts,” said Gibbons. “The project could be pretty much anything as long as I took on the leadership role.”

Gathering near the city’s Recreation Hall off of Long Street early Saturday morning, Gibbons and friends took just three hours to wash away years of grime and rust from the trash barrels and gave them a new coat of dark green paint.

City staff from the parks and recreation department helped out by collecting the cans and bringing them to the youth for cleaning, and once they gleaned with new paint, the city employees redistributed them to their places at the two parks.

“We had just the right amount of people to get it done without being excessive,” said Gibbons, adding that a majority of the trash cans were “in bad shape.”

“The trash cans have been rusted and stolen and ripped apart,” Gibbons said. “We mainly took care of the rusted cans that were different colors other than the green. Most of them had holes in them. If they were really bad we got rid of the barrels, but most of them were good enough to put back out.”

When planning for this Eagle Scout service project, he first opted to approach the city, said Gibbons. “I pretty much tried local organizations and I couldn’t find anything, so we decided to ask the city if they had anything they needed to be done and this was one of the projects they had available.”

Gibbons approached Drew Wells, director of community services for the city of Stephenville, who welcomed the local teen’s willingness to take on the task.

The city provided Gibbons and crew with the materials to get the job done, including paint and brushes, but the project itself was under the direction of the local Scout.

“The people that helped and how they worked to get it done made everything go smoothly,” said Gibbons. “We got it done in about three hours and it was fun interacting with the people that helped me.”

Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America, was introduced in 1912. Since then, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than 1.7 million young men. The title of Eagle Scout is held for life, thus giving rise to the phrase “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.”

Gibbons says Scouting is “very worth the time and energy,” which has allowed him to give back to the community and learn important lessons over the past five years.

“Self-reliance and self-determination - those are the main things I needed to go through the program,” said Gibbons. “My mom, too, without her I probably wouldn’t have done this whole project. She gave me the course I needed to get it done and get it done in time.”

Eagle Scout may be earned by a Boy Scout who serves as a Life Scout for at least six months, earns a minimum of 21 merit badges, demonstrates Scout Spirit, and demonstrates leadership in the troop.

He must plan, develop and lead a service project - the Eagle Project - that demonstrates both leadership and a commitment to duty. He must then take part in a Scoutmaster conference. After all requirements are met, he must complete an Eagle Scout board of review. Gibbons says he hopes to receive the Eagle Scout medal sometime this summer.

The fact that a boy is an Eagle Scout has always carried with it a special significance, not only in Scouting but also as he enters higher education, business or industry and community service.

The award is a performance-based achievement whose standards have been well-maintained over the years. Not every boy who joins a Boy Scout troop earns the Eagle Scout rank; only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts do so.

Nevertheless, the goals of Scouting - citizenship training, character development and personal fitness - remain important for all Scouts, whether or not they attain the Eagle Scout rank.

Steven is the son of Dana Gibbons of Stephenville, and is led by Troop 18 Leader Michael Beverly.