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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Highlands Grad Earns Eagle Scout Badge Despite COVID Restrictions, Weather and Other Challenges

Eagle Scout and recent Highlands grad Noah Wormald at the shelter he built for the Fort Thomas Dog Park.

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by Robin Gee

Noah Wormald was starting his Eagle Scout project just as the first waves of the COVID pandemic hit in 2020. He soldiered on, however, tackling issues related to the lockdown and social distancing measures, as well as design changes, weather – and some very eager and curious helpers.

Wormald’s project, which was completed at the end of last summer, was the construction of a new shelter at the Fort Thomas Dog Park, located within Highlands Park.

"Originally, I was looking at something maybe back behind Highlands High School. I wanted to do something that connected with the environment," he said.

Wormald graduated this year and is headed to Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, to study marine science.

When his first idea didn’t pan out, he decided to reach out to city officials. “I was able to get a meeting with Kevin Barbian and Ron Dill. And I just asked them what they needed done,” he explained.

Barbian and Dill listed a few things, among them a new shelter for the dog park. "They mentioned the dog park shelter, and since my family frequents the dog park, I thought that would be the best one for me."


The added challenge of a pandemic

That was just as the COVID pandemic was starting to shut things down. Unable to get large crews of volunteers due to the restrictions, a lot of the work was done by Wormald and his father with help from a handful of his fellow scouts and their families.

"I did have a few people who really helped, in particular the Robinson family. Brandon Robinson is in my scout troop, and his family are frequent visitors up there [at the dog park]. He helped me the most. He and his family were up there every single time I needed help."

COVID may have also influenced changes in the design plans for the shelter. Already popular with residents, the dog park became a particularly busy place when people wanted to get out and enjoy some socially distanced activity. City officials realized early on the shelter needed to be fairly large to accommodate all the visitors.

"Originally, it was supposed to be about 4 feet by 8 feet. But then the city decided they needed it to be bigger because of how many people go to the dog park...Once they decided what they wanted, they said, okay, you design it. So I was in charge of designing, deciding what materials to use and how to go about it," Wormald said.

A partnership with the city

Officials wanted the shelter to match the other shelters in city parks, especially in roof design and the color of the stain for the wood. City staff helped in other ways, by pouring the concrete pad and, later, by erecting the roof itself. Wormald did all the work in between – constructing the columns, connecting them and securing them, as well as constructing the under roof support and adding the roof felt.

"So, I drew up the plans at first for a smaller building. Then, they wanted it bigger, so I went back to the drawing board," he said. The city had some specific requirements for the roof, so he incorporated these changes into the redesign of a much larger building. The finished building is about 13 by 15 feet.

After city crews poured and prepared the concrete, Wormald and his dad worked in the evenings to do the anchors and joists for the columns. On the weekends, he said, a small group of troop members helped with putting the columns up. All the wood needed to be cut and stained at his house and was then transported to the site. 

Noah Wormald at work on his Eagle Scout project, a new shelter for the Fort Thomas Dog Park.

Thankful for funding and support

Securing the materials for a project of that size would have been another challenge, but Wormald had help through a generous donation by Fort Thomas city council member Adam Blau.

"When I first heard of Noah's project at the dog park, I was happy to support it. Great cities are only as good as its community engagement from its residents, and Fort Thomas' support from its citizens is second to none," Blau said. "It's especially important to cultivate civic duty at an early age and so I was happy to help him get this project executed. We're lucky to have young leaders like Noah in Fort Thomas. He deserves all the credit."

Wormald said he was happily surprised by and grateful for the help. Blau purchased all the wood and material for the project. 

An important takeaway

To Wormald, learning to "roll with the punches" when it came to meeting client needs, changing conditions and even the weather was an important takeaway from the project.

"The biggest thing for me was learning to adapt...I had to adapt to changes in the design, and then COVID started up in late January or February, and I was not able then to work on it full-time. Me and my dad had to do much of the work without a lot of help," he said.

Adding to the challenges, the park, offering a welcome respite during the pandemic, was very crowded much of the time he was working. And, then there was contending with an eager, but not well-skilled, group of curious canine helpers, including his own pup, who were always ready to lend a paw. 

Wormald with a group of eager canine volunteers.


"I had to deal with a lot of things I couldn’t control, but had to adapt to them, which was a very good thing, because it taught me a lot," he said.

To those in scouts or considering it, he said that at one point he weighed whether to stay in scouts or to pursue his interest in school sports. He decided to stick with scouts, he said because "Scouts will last for your lifetime. I will always be an Eagle Scout." And, he has the legacy of the dog shelter he built for the entire community.

Noah is a member of Troop 86, hosted by St. Joseph's Church in Cold Spring. Fort Thomas City Council recognized him for his work at the recent council meeting, and his Eagle Scout ceremony is scheduled for Monday, June 21.

Noah Wormald completing his work on the dog park shelter. Fort Thomas city crews then erected the roof to complete the project at the end of last summer.


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