by Todd Cohen
photographs by Juli Leonard
Larkin Andreaus is that rare 15-year-old who knows who he is, where he comes from, and where he’s headed. And he has made it his mission to bridge those divides between past, present and future – not just personally, but for his community.
A longtime Boy Scout, Andreaus decided that for his Eagle Scout service project (a requirement to achieve Scouting’s top rank) he would to build a bridge to replace a decaying structure on the grounds of the North Carolina Museum of Art. He used wood that would endure for generations and made creative use of the old materials. In the process, he also honored his family’s Eagle Scout legacy.
The idea for the project came to the Enloe High School freshman through fond memories of hiking on the museum grounds. He knew the boardwalk of its Lowes Park Pavilion was deteriorating and asked permission to rebuild it. The museum asked that he build a replacement to endure the elements and the years, and Andreaus decided that he also wanted to make good use of the old wood at the same time.
Andreaus’s first move was to borrow $5,000 from his father, Raleigh dentist Steven B. Andreaus, to buy enough Brazilian hardwood lumber, known as ipe, to replace the 81-foot-long boardwalk. This ipe can withstand the elements for up to 80 years, Andreaus says, and is also harvested in a way that makes room for new trees without clear cutting the rainforest it comes from.
He then enlisted more than two dozen volunteers from his Scout troop, school, and neighborhood, and in a 12-hour blitz in November 2012, the group dismantled the museum’s old boardwalk and built the new one.
Museum official Dan Gottlieb calls the new boardwalk “museum-quality.”
Then, Larkin took the old lumber and screws he and his team collected from the old boardwalk, and turned it into to 100 bluebird houses. He’s selling them for $50 each to generate the revenue he needs to repay his father’s loan.
Andreaus, who estimates he has spent at least 800 hours on the project, will not get his Eagle Scout award until he repays the loan.
“I’ve learned not to procrastinate,” he says. “And I’ve learned a lot about working with others.”
Larkin’s schedule leaves little time for procrastination. He rises daily about 6 a.m., attends classes from 7:20 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., then heads to Pullen Aquatic Center for up to two hours of swim practice in the winter for the Enloe varsity team (he runs cross country in the fall). Homework lasts about an hour after that; then he has dinner with his parents. On Wednesday evenings, he goes to meetings of Troop 100 of the Scouts at Edenton Street Methodist Church. And some Monday evenings, depending on how much homework he has, he is tutored so he can be a better writer. Then he reads before going to bed about 9:30 or 10.
Larkin, who lives in the Glenwood Brooklyn neighborhood, attended Wylie Elementary School and Exploris Middle School. His father is president of Five Points Center for Aesthetic Dentistry. His mother, Kim Hale Andreaus, is an instructor and field coordinator in the Department of Social Work at N.C. State University.
Why did you get involved in scouting?
My father and both grandfathers were Eagle Scouts, and I wanted to carry on that legacy. I always liked working outdoors. That was one of the big reasons I joined.
What did your grandfathers do?
My dad’s father was from Austria. He grew up in Illinois, became an Eagle Scout and fought in World War II. He was assistant to the publisher of the Smithfield Herald. My mom’s father grew up in Miami. He went to West Point, fought in the Vietnam War and became a colonel in the Army.
What have you learned from scouting?
I learned about leadership and helping community. To be an effective leader, you have to be able to command people without coming across as a bad person, and lead by example, not being afraid to get dirty, so you’re equal with others.
You are the representative in Troop 100 for Order of the Arrow, an honor society that requires members to go through an ordeal. What was that like?
It’s all day, no talking, doing service projects. You sleep outdoors with nobody around you, and they provide no tents or sleeping bags. You have to build your own shelter. I did that in September 2012 at Camp Durant.
How did you plan your bridge project?
I looked for some trails that needed a bridge at the Museum of Art. I spoke with Dan Gottlieb, director of museum planning and design, and he brought up the idea of rebuilding the boardwalk. I met with the artist of the original pavilion, Mike Cindric (project manager at Design Dimension) to discuss my ideas. He provided me with tips from when it was originally built. I learned a lot about the blueprints of the boardwalk, and what I would need to take it down and put it back up quickly.
How are you marketing the birdhouses?
I’ve been to a gallery opening at my dad’s office. I’ve been to an Audubon Society meeting. I’ve gone to my church, Church of the Good Shepherd. I’m using email lists of parents and friends. (Larkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
What are your plans for college and career?
I’d like to go to UNC Chapel Hill and study in medical school, hopefully to become a dentist. My dad’s always made it sound really fun, and I want to be able to help people. I help at his free clinic. I hand him the tools. It’s amazing how happy people are after they receive care.
What do you do for fun?
I play with my friends. We hang out a lot. Starting high school and coming from a small school like Exploris, it’s been really neat to make a lot of friends. Exploris was nice, but by the end of eighth grade, I was ready for a change. You knew all the people well, and some of them a little too well.
What are your favorite movies?
I like comedies and action movies. I really like Clint Eastwood movies. They’re really well written. I like the spaghetti westerns.
What do you like to read?
Really fast-paced books. I just finished the Alex Rider series. I really like The Chronicles of Narnia.
What’s your favorite TV show?
Arrested Development. My uncle – Tony Hale, my mom’s younger brother and also my godfather – plays Buster.
Who are your heroes?
My dad. He’s always been able to really help me. And my uncle. He worked really hard to become the actor he is.
What does philanthropy mean to you?
To give more than you receive, to really love others, and to not be self-centered.
What is your philosophy of life?
Because you only have one life, you should help others as much as you can and live it to its fullest.