Landon Eicher

Riverview teen places three Little Free Libraries at city parks

DAVE GORGON

A Boy Scout from a Riverview troop has guided the creation of three Little Free Libraries that have been placed in city parks.

Landon Eichler, a 15-year-old member of Troop 1659, is responsible for the placement of the small wooden library boxes in Memorial Park, Voss Park and Ray Street Park. The three structures were filled with dozens of donated books that are available to readers of all ages at no cost.

The Riverview Community High School sophomore said he was inspired to select the Little Free Libraries as his Eagle Scout project after seeing how much his younger sister got a kick out of visiting a similar public box of books near their current home in Allen Park.

“I saw how much my little sister enjoyed going to the one by my home and thought it would be great in the parks,” Eichler said. “I’m really proud of the libraries. They turned out really cool. I like seeing how much they are being used.”

Eagle Scout is the highest rank of Scouting. To earn the rank, a Boy Scout must earn 21 merit badges, must complete a project benefiting the community and must demonstrate “Scout Spirit,” based on the Scout Oath and Law, service and leadership.

Eichler came up with the idea of creating small book holders by reviewing options on Facebook and the Internet, including the Little Free Libraries website. The home page of the nonprofit organization website says the concept promotes neighborhood book exchanges, of which there are more than 90,000 registered and branded as Little Free Libraries.

A Scout is responsible for getting a team together and supervising the creation of his Eagle Scout project, something that was somewhat of a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic era, which not only hampered his workforce options but limited fundraising opportunities.

“Everything was at a complete standstill,” said Jenny Eichler, Landon’s grandmother, who has been involved in his Scouting career since the beginning, was a Cub Scout leader, has chaperoned Scouting trips and currently serves as treasurer of the Boy Scout troop.

“Landon’s position was to be a leader – a supervisor,” she said. “His role is to tell his helpers that ‘you have to do this and you have to do that.’”

With fundraising coming to a “complete halt,” family members stepped up to donate materials and help make the project a reality. The team included his grandmother, Landon’s Uncle Jon Eichler of Monroe, his mother Danielle Robertson, and a friend and classmate, Lucas Fiester.

Landon worked with the Riverview Parks and Recreation Department to determine the sites, which are all visited by many children – the main target audience.

The workers crafted, painted the boxes and added Scouting decals and a message saying they were the Eagle Scout project of Landon Eichler. The bulk of the construction is credited to Uncle Jon.

The structures are built with three-quarters inch plywood and are sturdy. The 4-by-4 poles used to hold the Little Libraries were recycled and donated by the City of Wyandotte Electrical Department. Other donations came from stepfather Casey Robertson, Uncle Jon, Ray Eichler and the City of Dearborn Department of Public Works.

Books were donated by members of the Frazier, Prinze, Blaine, Jacobs and Dunn families. Anyone can donate a book going forward.

Riverview Mayor Andrew Swift and Parks and Recreation Director Todd Dickman were on hand for the unveiling of the Little Libraries.

“After meeting Landon and learning of his efforts to better our parks and community, it reinforces my faith in our younger generation,” Mayor Swift said. “The effort he and his Scout family put into this project is much appreciated by the residents of Riverview.”

Landon joined Scouting in 2010, becoming a member of Cub Scout Pack 1659, first at Memorial Elementary School and then at Forest Elementary School.

He advanced to Boy Scouts in 2016. He said he is currently a Life Scout and the senior patrol leader of Troop 1659. He said his goal is to attain the Eagle Scout rank by December 2020.

Eichler said he recommends Scouting, noting that “you can learn so much and it’s also pretty fun.” He said his fondest memories of Cub Scouts include winning trophies during Pinewood Derby. He said he really enjoys summer camp at Cole Canoe Base Camp in Alger, Mich.

He said the “best part of Scouts” was building a cardboard boat to race at the Riverview summer festival. He said the boat “is made out of nothing but cardboard and duct tape. Our troop used this same boat for three years at summer camp for their cardboard boat races. We won all three years. As a matter of fact, this boat is still usable. A couple patches here and there, but it still floats.”

As a high school student, Landon plans to participate in the dual enrollment program through Wayne County Community College District, which allows him to earn college credit while still at Riverview High.

He said his main interest is computers and said he is an avid “video gamer.” He also enjoys outdoor activities such as four-wheeling, hunting and fishing. He said he has successfully bagged two bucks and a doe.

“Landon is a very great kid,” his grandmother said. “He’s a very quiet person and I think Boy Scouts helped him a lot, getting him to open up a bit.”

Scoutmaster Jamie Strassner of Riverview said Landon is a perfect example of a Boy Scout who cares about his community and has proven his leadership skills to fellow Scouts. Strassner praised the Eagle Scout project and said Landon and other Scouts make a difference in Riverview.

“This is another community-driven project that will benefit many people,” Strassner said. “A bunch of people have already reached out showing their support. Somehow, someway, this kid had his finger on the pulse of the community. I’m proud of him.”

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