By Kate Quesada

Bloomingdale High School student Christopher Hackbardt has found a way to help others while achieving one of the greatest honors of the Boy Scout organization, the rank of Eagle Scout.

Hackbardt, a member of Boy Scout Troop 61 with the Presbyterian Church of Bloomingdale, built a raised-bed garden for students at the Lopez Exceptional Center in Seffner, where his sister teaches children with special needs, as his Eagle Scout project.

To become an Eagle Scout, students need to come up with and execute a project that helps a group outside of the Boy Scout organization. They are responsible for planning and following through with the project, including coordinating volunteers if necessary.

When researching his Eagle Scout project, Christopher spoke to his sister who suggested he build a raised bed garden for the students at her school. He wanted a project that would be lasting and helpful to people and felt that this garden met his requirements.

“One of the goals of the Lopez Exceptional Center is to help the students learn life skills,” said Eileen Hackbardt, Christopher’s mother. “As part of the science lessons they wanted to have a garden for the students to learn to plant, grow, harvest and possibly sell their crops.
Providing a garden for the school would last for many classes of students and give them the skills to help them grow.”

The garden took approximately two months from the start of the proposal to the completion of the project and Christopher, who is 15 years old, credits his success to “having a good plan and following it.”

Christopher developed the plan for the garden, figured out what was needed for its construction, how the volunteers would be used and tracked the costs against his budget.

Other requirements for scouts to reach the Eagle rank include being active in their troop and serving in a position of responsibility for at least six months, completing at least 21 merit badges and being less than 18 years old.

Lopez Exceptional School is located at 315 W. Old Hillsborough Ave. in Seffner and can be reached at 744-8008. For more information on Troop 61 which meets Monday evenings from 7:30-9 p.m. at 710 Bloomingdale Ave. E. in Valrico, visit

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Kate Quesada
Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.