By: Jen Russon
A Tamarac teen turned memories of walking with his grandmother along the beach into his Eagle Scout project, and now city commissioners are interested in implementing that idea.
Patton Horton, 18, said he and his late grandmother, Kathy Vaden used to collect trash in a Ziploc bag, walking along Pompano Beach.
Horton worked closely with his scouting advisor, Mike Hand, and members of Troop 497, to create a beach-cleanup method that gets more people involved — while getting better results.
With the help of volunteers from his Coral Springs troop, Horton built a unit that houses a trash can and six buckets, enabling beachgoers to pick up and dispose of rubbish and other debris from the beach.
Horton and other troop members set up the beach clean-up station at the Pompano Beach Pier earlier this month, where they collected about two pounds of trash in five minutes.
The Eagle Scout said the endeavor would not have been possible without his sponsors at the city of Pompano Beach, and local businesses in that area, including Fast Signs, Bella Monte Italian Deli, 2nd Street Surf Shop, Force-E Scuba Centers, and Retro Seashore Decor.
Horton said these people worked hard to help him make a good idea into a great one.
“Truthfully, I thought my grandmother’s method was counterintuitive,” admitted Horton, “Picking up plastic trash, with an item that is, in and of itself, plastic trash.”
Horton has an extensive vocabulary and an even bigger imagination. A senior at South Broward High School, he has been accepted early into the Wilkes Honors College at FAU. Horton already displays a textbook knowledge of Florida beaches and plans to major in marine biology.
His fellow troop members describe Horton as a dapper dresser, who wears the clothes of a 19th-century inventor, like Thomas Edison.
He idolizes Ernest Hemingway and can talk away about the differences between him and other scions of American literature, like F. Scott Fitzgerald.
“Some people think I was reincarnated. I would definitely love to join an anachronistic society,” he said, pushing an antique pair of wireframe glasses that occasionally slip down his nose.
Patton also wears a waistcoat and antique pocket watch, always eager to share that he repairs typewriters from the 1900s and is getting ready to repair one that may be headed to Our Backyard Museum.
The teenager lives with his mother, Vickie Vaden, in their Tamarac home, and while he has loved living in South Florida, he dreams of one day relocating somewhere that isn’t quite so hot.
Horton will attend Pompano Beach city commission meetings in the new year to learn the next steps to make his beach-clean-up station a permanent fixture on their beaches.
With so many interests and so little time, Horton is grateful the clock didn’t run out on his last Boy Scout project.
“Getting my Eagle was a long and arduous process. Did I ever think about quitting? Many times, but I’m glad I kept going. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my troop,” he said.
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- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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