Plant High School junior Bob Schofner, 17, who says he wants to “live my life with a big heart and a small ego,” has been making a difference in the lives of other Tampa Bay children for years. He is an assistant scoutmaster for an inner city scout troop. He has tutored at Metropolitan Ministries and hopes to start a club at Plant to pair up high school mentors with at-risk middle school students.
To fund his Eagle Scout project, building a sensory room at Tampa Bay’s United Cerebral Palsy Preschool, Schofner made and sold 200 bags of beef jerky at local farmers’ markets.
“I have always loved beef jerky – who doesn’t? – and it was something that, as a scout, was a staple on campouts and hiking,” he said. “My aunt gave me a dehydrator as a gift, and I started experimenting with recipes using my friends as taste testers.”
The learning tools and sensory items in the room, specially designed for children with special needs, will help teach them fine and gross motor skills. “We installed learning tools and sensory items specifically designed for special needs children to teach them outside of an ordinary classroom setting,” Schofner said. “The sensory activities promote independence and give the kids a chance to live full, experience-rich lives.”
Academically, Schofner is an honor roll regular. He works as a biology research assistant at USF. He began teaching himself Chinese when he was 11 and is currently dual enrolled in Chinese language and culture classes at the university.
“I try to believe in and help others, not marginalize – only then can a positive change be made in our community,” Schofner said. “I am currently volunteering at Tampa General Hospital and interested in medicine. I would eventually like to go to college to deepen my understanding about the world around me and seek opportunities to strengthen global