Brothers give back through Eagle Scout projects


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Two Sioux Falls Lutheran students are showing that you don’t need to be an adult to be of service to your community.

Sam and Gabe Prairie just graduated from the eighth grade. They’re passionate about scouting and just recently finished up some Eagle Scout projects.

Sam and Gabe Prairie have been in Scouts since the second grade but they’ve been brothers for much longer. The two are part of a set of triplets. Sam is the oldest and Gabe the youngest with sister Leona in the middle.

Holsen: How does that make you feel?

Gabe: Eh. 30 seconds is not that bad.

The 15-year-olds just graduated from 8th grade at Sioux Falls Lutheran and they wanted to give back through their Eagle Scout projects.

“It’s very important to be able to serve the community and it shows what scouting is because it shows that we’re here to help people out,” Sam said.

The pair quickly found ideas for a prayer garden and playground bridge and got right to work with the help of friends and family.

“Very proud. Couldn’t be prouder of them,” Douglas said.

Their dad Douglas, an Eagle Scout himself, says it was a challenge for his sons to complete the builds during a pandemic. He’s impressed with their perseverance and how things came together.

“This has been very emotional for me. With COVID, kind of when all COVID started hitting, we thought well how are we going to do this project,” Douglas said.

Sam organized the prayer garden efforts and helped find $3,000 to get it built. With no 8th grade class trip this year because of coronavirus, he asked his classmates to donate the trip money to the project.

“I was pretty happy. I’m glad they supported me and have me,” Sam said.

Several even helped lay out some rock and a few plants.

“If people are out in recess, they can just go sit there. It’s just kind of a visual reminder that, hey, you can pray here. You can pray wherever you want,” Sam said.

The benches in the prayer garden along with this bridge are part of Gabe’s efforts. Working with wood is something he never would have done without the Scouts.

“You get to do a whole bunch of new things. There’s badges for anything you want to do,” Gabe said.

While the benches are made of cedar, the wood for the bridge has extra special meaning. It comes from a tree that sat outside the school their dad went to in Balaton, MN. The kids’ Grandpa Steve Prairie saved it for a special project.

“He snagged one of the logs a few years ago. He kind of knew it would have some sentimental value,” Douglas said.

“So it’s really cool that the wood has been repurpose from one school to another,” Gabe said.

Three generations were involved when the tree was cut up at Grandpa’s sawmill.

“We used that to cut the log up, plane the wood and then we built it there,” Gabe said.

It’s now part of a natural play area for little ones. Tina Lenz, who taught five year olds here, is grateful for the addition.

“It’s awesome and I think they kind of have an ownership in it too,” Lenz said.

“They’re just the sweetest and I think it’s just a good example for the other kids, the other kids to follow too,” Lenz said.

It’s all part of leaving a place better than you found it.

“It’s a very good legacy to leave with my kids being graduates of Sioux Falls Lutheran and moving on to another school. It’s a nice legacy to leave here,” Douglas said.

“It’s anything to really help serve the community,” Sam said.

They thank the Scouts for inspiring them to make a difference.

“You get to do a lot of cool things that you normally wouldn’t be able to do. If I wasn’t in scouting or I wasn’t here at SFLS, I would have never been able to do this. It was a lot of fun to do,” Gabe said.

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