The Eagle Scout Award is the highest rank and a lifetime-honored achievement for a Boy Scout. More than two million scouts have earned the honor since it was first awarded in 1912. Local scouts Jack Steed and Hunter Steenbakkers earned the award after they completed their individual projects.
In order to earn the badge, Scouts must first earn at least 21 merit badges. They also have to plan, develop and coordinate a service project from start to finish. The project needs to demonstrate leadership, show commitment to duty and benefit a community, school or religious organization. Each project involves extensive documentation and has to be pre-approved by scout leaders and also by those who need to give permission for each project plan before it begins.
In a combined awards ceremony in April, with friends, scout leaders and family present, the two 17-year-olds both received their Eagle Scout Awards. These two young men have participated in many scouting experiences together since age 8, since Hunter and his mother Kelli first invited Jack to join the Cub Scouts.
To reach the level of Eagle Scout, each of these young men was also required to create and lead a separate service project, based on their own ideas and interests. For completion of the Eagle Scout award, each young man receives not only the badge itself but a special red, white and blue neckerchief given only to Eagle Scouts, a letter of recognition for the achievement and a beautiful American flag that has been flown over the United States Capital building in Washington, D.C. In addition to the badge that the Eagle Scout earns, his parents also receive pins, which say “Eagle Scout Mom” and “Eagle Scout Dad.”
Jack is the son of JLee and Pat Steed of Lovell. His project was to clean up the Lovell Rodeo Grounds.
“It’s something I use and was interested in,”
said Jack. “It doesn’t get a lot of attention most of the year, but we did the project just before Lovell Mustang Days so it would be
ready (before the rodeo).”
With the help of more than 20 of his friends and family, and more than 100 combined man-hours, Jack and crew spent the day re-hanging plywood on fenced areas, cleaning the bleachers, removing weeds, raking the grounds and general maintenance where needed. They also used a loader to remove rocks of all sizes from the arena and burned trash.
The night before the cleanup, Jack got much-appreciated help from Chad Petrich of Byron, who mowed the overgrowth of weeds down so they could better see what would need raking and removing. Steed also got help from Lovell town administrator Jed Nebel and from Jim Minchow, who arranged for a fire truck to be present to safely monitor the burning.
Jack, who will be a senior at Lovell High School next year, had to coordinate the crew, plan the entire project and get all the necessary permissions. He also made arrangements for the use of the equipment and anything else the crew would need to get the job done. Then there were the hours of paperwork for the service project itself.
Hunter is the son of Kelli and Mike Steenbakkers of Lovell. He will be a high school senior at Lovell High School in the fall, and he has enjoyed scouting enough to keep working toward his Eagle Scout badge. He said one of the best parts of getting this award was being able to share the accomplishment with his friend Jack.
“We planned the ceremony together and have been through most of Scouts together,” said Hunter.
Hunter has had a goal of becoming an Eagle Scout for a long time.
“Seeing friends get their Eagles made me want to get mine,” he said. “It helps with scholarships and it helps you learn leadership.”
He said one of the biggest benefits of working
toward the award was feeling closer to family and friends and spending time with them.
Hunter’s Eagle Scout project started in early 2016. The project was to benefit a sibling’s humanitarian efforts. Hunter’s sister Ashley worked in the summer for HELP International, an organization that educates and serves families and kids within African villages. After meeting with an organizer and discussing the essential needs of the children his sister would be helping, Hunter decided to make and send hygiene kits with soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes and combs. He also created school kits containing notebooks, crayons and other writing instruments. The kits were assembled and placed into individual zip lock bags so they could be handed out easily, and to protect the contents.
Like all Eagle projects, this one required hours of pre-planning and execution, and ended up taking more than 100 hours to complete. Hunter had to develop his plan, then he had to ask for donations for the kits, including making phone calls to a lot of people he didn’t know. He also had to order products and arrange for 20 to 25 people to help assemble the final kits.
Hunter received invaluable help from his family, who prepped everything for final assembly ahead of time. With a donation campaign successful enough to have extra products – which Steenbakkers also donated to the cause – he was able to complete his Eagle Project goal of 200 kits for the organization, and more. His sister Ashley handed out the kits to grateful, happy recipients in Africa during the summer of 2016.
Hunter’s advice to those who are attempting to earn an Eagle Scout badge is to get the paperwork done early.
“Don’t give up!” he said. “It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.”
By Wendy Roth