Palmetto High junior William Nunez has earned more than 1,000 community service hours. He has done a variety of things for those hours, including becoming a counselor- in-training at the Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center for a summer.
Probably the most satisfying community service project he worked on was beautifying a section of Matheson Hammock Park for his Eagle Scout badge. “We put in a 110-foot landscaping barrier,” he says. “We planted about 140 plants and painted 51 concrete bumpers at parking spots.” Under his direction, the volunteers also renovated picnic tables.
“We replaced the wood and hardware on five picnic tables,” he says.
He chose Matheson Hammock because he recalled going to the park when he was younger and remembered the growing problem of pollution and litter in the park.
“I thought it would be a good project to improve the area,” he says. “It’s something that you can involve a lot of people and you can have tangible results in one day.”
The project spruced up the area adjacent to the administration building near the beach. He planted dune sunflowers and a red road vine.
“I talked to the arborist of Miami-Dade County,” he says. “(The plants) are specific for that type of region and they are native to South Florida. They have high salt tolerance and take a lot of sun. They naturally grow on the beaches.”
The project cost was $1,500 but Nunez was able to solicit donations from friends, family and companies, so he did not have to pay out of pocket. He also was able to attract 98 volunteers.
“It was really successful. I got a lot of people from school, from friends and family and the troop,” he says. “We started at 8 a.m. We had everything done before noon.”
Since then, he has passed by to check on the plants and is pleased that everything is growing well.
Nunez has volunteered for many of his friends’ Eagle projects. He calculates that he’s gone to 80 projects so far. “I’ve done almost every park in Dade County,” he says.
“I’ve volunteered at about 19 this year so far.”
At school, Nunez plays cello in the advance orchestra at Palmetto. He’s a senate member on the student council and vice president of competition for the Science Competitor Club/Science National Honor Society.
“This year I’ve competed in Envirothon, Chemithon and the Astronaut Challenge,” he says. “My team went to states and won the technical exam portion (of the Astronaut Challenge) at states. It’s the first year Palmetto participated.”
He competed in the Envirothon for the third time.
“I’ve won at least one category in the regional every year — my team and I — and we won the wildlife category,” he says.
Nunez has spent plenty of time in the wild, camping at three of the most prestigious Boy Scout high adventure camps, Philmont, the
Northern Tier and Sea Base in the Florida Keys. To go on high adventures at all three scout camps is considered the Triple Crown.
“That’s probably my proudest award that Triple Crown,” he says.
At Philmont, Nunez was the crew leader.
“Before going on the hike, we mountain biked Pike’s Peak and went white water rafting on the Colorado River,” he says.
At Sea Base, he spent six days camping on an out island in the Florida Keys. The final adventure camp was the Northern Tier in the Great Northwest.
“What I’ve learned from adventures is they make you a lot less materialistic. And you can enjoy being outside,” he says.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld