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Making his mark: McKinney High Eagle Scout helps city keep storm drains in check
Kelsey Kruzich/Staff photo - McKinney High School junior Connor Hook organized a team of roughly 30 individuals to apply about 300 storm drain markers around a McKinney subdivision for his Eagle Scout project in December. Hook did the project on behalf of the city, which was required to have the seals in place by the end of the year in an effort to reduce dumping in the drains that lead to local waterways.
Anyone who has either been a Boy Scout or knows someone who has, understands the Eagle Leadership Service Project is more than just building a porch or picking up trash.
The endeavor marks cumulative years of hard work and education, and carries specific requirements meant to help the scout apply his knowledge in a mature leadership role.
Thanks to help from his local church, McKinney High School junior Connor Hook met those obligations while carrying out an environmental mission for the city of McKinney.
Organizing a team of roughly 30 people, Hook applied special markers to the top of about 300 storm drains throughout the Brookstone subdivision near Elliott Elementary School in western McKinney.
The effort, which took about two hours to complete, was facilitated by the city's public works department as part of its storm water inlet marking and community service programs. The aluminum emblems can be found around the city and feature a picture of a fish with the message, "No dumping - drains to creek."
"I realized a lot of people litter all the time, which isn't right," said Hook, 16, who completed his project in December. "We need to be careful of where we throw our trash, and this project should help raise awareness for it."
The city is responsible for various environmental tasks aside from the standard garbage and recycling services. Its environmental education and community outreach programs consist of involvement in events like the upcoming Master Gardener's Garden Show in March and the annual Texas Trash Off in April. The department's webpage also provides educational resources regarding topics such as recycling procedures and special, city-supported community service projects for children.
Each year, the city must renew its storm water management program permit with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to regulate the discharge of pollutants and to keep them from flowing into local waterways.
Part of the measures the city must meet for the permit consists of providing education and opportunities for community involvement, said Annita McCormick, storm water management specialist for the city.
McCormick had hoped to have the storm drain project completed in conjunction with McKinney's Make a Difference Day in October but received little response from volunteers. Thankfully, she said, Hook found her just in time to have the project completed by the end of the year as required by the TCEQ.
"I saw him as a saving grace," she said. "The best part is that he is now able to explain it to somebody else. He got it and was like, 'It's really cool.'"
The city provided Hook with the markers as its way of reminding residents to think twice before tossing their trash into the drain, as surface water goes directly into the city's drinking water supply.
"It raises awareness that you shouldn't be throwing stuff in there. We need to keep it clean," said Hook, who's been in Scouts since age 9. "It was a great role I had to play, as I was leader of this whole project. It helped with skills I've been developing and will help me later in life as a leader."
Hook's project was an example of the importance of facilitating public involvement initiatives. For the first time, the city also began incorporating the Spanish version of the seal with Hook's help, McCormick said.
"We're trying to get [the word] out there to help people understand that whenever it rains or even when the wind picks up, it carries litter into the storm drains and it's not filtered," she said. "That water goes directly to Lake Lavon."
While the topic of storm water may not be glamorous at first glance, McCormick said she hopes residents will take notice of Hook's project and it will prompt them to spearhead one of their own to help keep the city clean.
"He asked questions, he didn't just want to do it to meet a requirement," McCormick said. "I could tell he really wanted to do something that mattered. It was a blessing to have somebody on board to do something like that. He followed it all way through. I thought that was above and beyond and just it was fantastic of him."