Homage to Grandparents and Passion for Community Fuel Eagle Scout Project
Rahul Chauhan Gives The Gift Of Garden Beds To Armstrong Elementary
By Mara Soloway
When Rahul Chauhan was looking for an Eagle Scout project for Boy Scout Troup 1845, a couple of factors made him decide on building three garden beds at Armstrong Elementary School in Missouri City. One strong factor was his passion for community service.
“I was aiming for something that would have a wide impact in my community. When I learned that some of the students at Armstrong are considered less privileged than others, that became part of the driving force,” said the 16-year-old Clements High School junior.” The Title 1 school, with 79 percent of students living below the poverty level, already had an initiative to create an organic garden, which Rahul’s efforts fulfilled.
The plaque near the new garden beds explains another of Rahul’s driving factors. It reads in part, “This vegetable garden is dedicated to the loving memory of my grandparents Dr. K.J.B.S. Gaur & Mrs. Indira Gaur,” his maternal grandparents. “My grandmother on my mother’s side was a really avid gardener. She taught my mother when she was young and I also learned from her when I used to visit her in India,” he said. His grandfather inspired Rahul and his older brother, Siddharth, a medical student in Dallas, with his hard work and charitable medical acts.
Elsa Villarreal, a parent educator at Armstrong, explained that the school had already decided where the best spot for the garden was best based on open area and light. “We are very appreciative of Rahul’s efforts,” she said. “It’s exciting to teach students what healthy food looks like and how to grow it. The school received an Oliver Grant that we will use to fund a gardening club and a cooking club that will use ingredients from the garden. Our teachers are volunteering their time for those. It’s all coming together and going to be fantastic.”
Rahul figured out the lengths and widths and the amounts of beds that would fit the predetermined space, built them and added the soil. He calculated the amount of fencing to go around them. He also had some bureaucratic and supplier issues that stretched out the timeframe to about 15 months.
Scott Bauer has been Rahul’s scout leader since the student was a Cub Scout. “Through the ups and downs of getting the plant beds built, Rahul showed his determination. It took leadership to figure out the potential for the project, to work with different groups of adults and to set up a lot of project meetings,” he said. “Rahul provided tactical leadership, for instance stepping in when there were issues and getting them figured out. He loved the idea of the project and really felt the connection to the kids. I applaud him for that and for sticking with it.”
As a way to make friends, Rahul joined Cub Scouts when his family moved here in 2006. He appreciates scouting for the long-term friendships he’s made and the practical skillsets learned. “We learn specific skills like cooperation, problem solving and leadership,” he said. “I’m not sure I would have learned them anywhere else. I believe scouting is a unique activity – it’s a privilege to be gaining from it. I’m glad that I’ve stayed in it all these years.” Earning the Eagle rank is a significant accomplishment. “You could say Eagle is the pinnacle of the whole journey.”
Rahul said that his relationship with Scott Bauer is personal as well as professional. “We know each other well from having gone camping, hiking and scuba diving together. There’s just that connection,” he said. He appreciates Scott’s ability to organize the troop’s many activities and that he stresses that the scouts can reach any goals that they set.
Rahul is also active in debate, which is very time-consuming with preparing for and participating in one or more tournaments per month during the school year. While he is inspired by his debate coach and teacher, Renita Johnson, he feels that all his teachers have been influential in some way. “You realize as a student you always make mistakes and the teachers are willing to help you,” he said.
Both of Rahul’s parents are medical doctors and, along with his grandfather, the inspiration for his career choice in medicine and his involvement in numerous community service projects. His father Subodh is a fertility specialist in Houston and his mother Sonia is a pediatrician in Sugar Land. But they haven’t specifically encouraged him to take that path.
“I have always told Rahul that hard work is important. There will be challenges, but as long as your heart is in the right place, you can be a success,” Sonia said. “We’re really proud of Rahul because he is so driven, he is self-motivated.”
Subodh echoes the emphasis on hard work. “We also tell Rahul that giving back is how you make yourself useful,” he said.
Their well-spoken son obviously has taken their advice to heart. About his Eagle Scout project to create the garden beds, Rahul said, “I find a lot of reward in being able to create something by myself rather than having to go somewhere and purchase it. Seeing that we had success is very rewarding to me. And also knowing that the students can get the benefit of learning about plants and agriculture – that’s a whole other reward by itself.”
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