Three local scouts are among the most recent men to earn the distinguished title of Eagle Scout, a program of the Boy Scouts of America. Eagle Scout is the highest achievement and rank attainable in the Boy Scouts. Zachary Williams, Jacob Johnson and Michael Conger were recognized for this achievement during a Parish council meeting held late last month.
The process to earn the rank is lengthy and takes years to earn, which is why only about four percent of scouts are ever awarded this rank. Requirements include earning a minimum of 21 merit badges, which includes camping, emergency preparedness, environmental science, first aid, and citizenship in the world, and demonstrating Scout Spirit through an extensive project that shows leadership and community service.
Eighteen-year old Jacob Johnson of Troop 65 chose to place park benches and break areas around the newly built Parish Governmental Building as his leadership project. The idea came from a collaboration with his father, Councilman Johnson. He said break areas were one of the things needed, which expanded into the addition of multiple benches around the pond.
The Gonzales scout said he learned a great deal while working on his project, including responsibility and time management.
"When I started this project it was right before the flood happened, it kind of delayed everything and pushed the envelope on some of my Eagle stuff because the time we had. You had to keep on top of everything, the paperwork and the project itself. By the end of it you had a different mindset on everything because of how much effort you have to put on this one thing."
Michael Cogner, Troop 888, of Prairieville took on the task of designing and creating an outdoor educational and gardening area at the Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Baton Rouge. The area is designed to give children a place where they can plant flowers and plants and participate in outdoor classroom activities to learn about nature.
"I learned that it [the project] takes a lot more organization than I thought," the 17-year old said. "It takes a lot more planning and thinking and working with potential problems in the outdoors like the weather or any kind of factor that might play into it."
For Cogner, earning the rank of Eagle Scout is an honor that he shares with his two older brothers.
"You have something unique when you make it. You are one of those four percent, you are part of a small group."
Troop 69 scout Zachary Williams of Gonzales installed a cool-down station for the St. Amant High School band. Eight-foot benches, along with a pavilion, was built with a sprinkler system to mist down on the band members during the hot Louisiana months. This project was important for Williams because he was a member of the band and knows all about the grueling heat while performing.
"This kind of a realization that you have done so much and it kind of makes you feel like you have actually done something towards the community to help," Williams said, adding that while working on the project he learned a lot about leadership.
By earning the rank of Eagle Scout, the three scouts joined an esteemed group of men who also hold the achievement such as Astronaut Neil Armstrong, Walmart founder Sam Walton, Former President Gerald R. Ford and Film Director Steven Spielberg.