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April 18, 2013

Vaughn’s scouting years balance life with autism

DUNCAN — By Derrick Miller

The Duncan Banner

Taylor Vaughn found the inspiration to earn his Eagle Scout rank, while fulfilling his love for animals.

Vaughn’s point of order, where he will officially become an Eagle Scout in Troop 4434, is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Presbyterian Church. For his Eagle Scout project, he constructed awnings for the outdoor dog areas.

“It was a very hot summer,” Vaughn said. “We started in May and finished in July. We spent about five hours a day.

“There were not big awnings out there, just small wooden ones.”

To earn the highest ranking, scouts have to earn at least 21 merit badges, demonstrate Scout Spirit through the Boy Scout Oath and Law, and complete an in-depth project. The in-depth project is something the scout coordinates and works to complete with help from his fellow scouts and scout masters. Vaughn holds 33 badges and spent more than 200 hours on his project.

Vaughn, who is a junior at the Duncan High School, joined the Cub Scouts when he was in first grade and became a Boy Scout in sixth grade. As someone living with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, Vaughn’s parents (Scott and Marcia Vaughn) encouraged him to join the scouts to help him develop socially. April is Autism Awareness Month.

“He worked,” Marcia Vaughn said. “Completing something like this is challenging enough. But for someone with Asperger’s, you can imagine how challenging it can be.”

But Taylor Vaughn was excited to earn his Eagle Scout ranking, something only about 4 percent of scouts actually earn.

He completed his merit badges, including four or five that were required. When it came to figuring out what his Eagle Scout project would be, Vaughn didn’t look any further than the Stephens County Humane Society.

Vaughn said his love for animals led him to choose a project that would benefit them.

“I thought giving dogs more shelter would really be the best thing,” he said.

During the summer, he spent 11 Saturdays working to construct the awnings. He said the project came together gradually.

“Piece by piece, it all came together,” Vaughn said.

Nicole Baldwin, director for the Stephens County Humane Society, said the project was something all the non-profit organization’s dogs can reap the benefits from. Baldwin said the awning provides shelter from the sun and from rain whenever the dogs are outside.

Small swimming pools will be put under the awning in each pen to provide extra protection from the heat during the summer.

Baldwin said the Humane Society, which works off donations, has five employees. The additional help has alleviated some of the stress off the Humane Society employees.

“When we have people who help do things like this, it’s a relief of burden,” Baldwin said.

The Humane Society has 38 dogs and usually remains full throughout the year. Vaughn said he’s helped at the Humane Society a few times to earn a community spirit merit badge, and his troop has helped with the Humane Society’s Bark in the Park event.

He said he’s ready for his ceremony, which will add him to the elite group of Eagle Scouts. He said there’s been a lot of work, but he’s excited for the hard work to pay off.

“It’s been a long process,” Vaughn said.

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