Greendale - Mike Esser's Eagle Scout project is a fine reflection of his dedication to serve the community.
Esser, a 16-year-old junior at Thomas More High School, spent a good part of this past summer leading an effort to place reflective tape on all 650 fire hydrants throughout the village.
The dark green hydrants could not be easily spotted in the dark before the tape was applied.
Talk led to project
Esser said he had no idea what project he would end up taking on when he walked into the police station to interview Police Chief Bob Malasuk six months ago.
'We talked about all kinds of things such as safety concerns around Southridge and the high school,' Esser said. 'I told him I was looking for a project to do for my merit badge. I never expected to get an answer.'
Knowing there was a need to better identify the hydrants, the chief connected Esser to Public Works Director Mark Uecker.
'When I first heard of the need, I thought it was interesting,' Esser said. 'I did not know much about the hydrants.'
He got a thorough education when Uecker helped him reproduce a map of the hydrant sites throughout the village. From there, Esser said, he began organizing four other Scouts and soliciting transportation from adults who could take them to each of the hydrants.
'We had to wait a little while (because) the tape was on order,' Esser said. 'We worked through June and July because Mr. Uecker wanted to get everything done by August.'
Esser said he learned a lot from the project.
'I had never been to the water building before,' he said. 'I did not know that Mr. Uecker had a staff, and I really didn't know anything about all the hydrants in Greendale. Some of them were very hidden. The maps were helpful, but they were not exact, so we had to search for those.'
Work to be done
While the physical part of the project is complete, Esser now has to write a full report about his experience, and provide photographic documentation. The report will be reviewed and, if accepted, Esser will have earned his merit badge.
'I definitely had a great time,' he said. 'It was a good leadership experience. I think everyone should go into Scouting, because it teaches life skills, including how to deal with people and how to relate and be polite.'
Esser's work was a benefit to the community.
'We really needed to do something about those hydrants, because they are so hard to see,' Uecker said. 'We got the idea of the tape from New Berlin. We just needed some help in getting it done. It's nice to see young people step forward and volunteer.'
Esser's father, also named Mike, said he has watched his son and others grow through Scouting.
'When I was young, I only went through Cub Scouts,' the elder Esser said. 'Now I am involved in my son's Scouting activities. These kids mature right in front of your eyes. It's cool that he was able to do something for the community he lives in. A lot of times Scouting helps in other areas and towns, but this time it's nice he could do something for Greendale.'
Young Esser's grandfather, a Muskego resident, even helped.
'We have a lot of Scouts in our family,' Michael Derdzinski said, noting his own Scouting days were interrupted by World War II.
'We lived and raised our family in Greendale so I was happy to help drive the kids around to all the hydrants. This teaches them civic responsibility. It was fun to be part of it.'