Only the most determined Boy Scouts attain the rank of Eagle - Boy Scouts of America’s top distinction. It is an undertaking that requires unwavering devotion, and not all scouts are destined to make it.
According to the National Boy Scouts of America, only two percent of Boy Scouts achieve Eagle status. However, in almost 80 years, Union County has produced 99 Eagle Scouts.
Troop No. 129, which includes all of Union County, could have its 100th Eagle as early as May. According to Scout Master Dave Jennett, three young Crestonians are quickly moving toward becoming an Eagle Scout — Kiernan Norton, Brenton Barber and Dylan Anson.
Serving the community
To become an Eagle, a Scout must earn 21 merit badges, which involve learning a number of leadership and life skills and performing community service. Additionally, each Boy Scout vying for Eagle status must complete a service project, which is chosen, planned and carried out by the Scout.
Creston High School sophomore Kiernan Norton, 16, of Creston, the son of Tim and Bunny Norton, is three merit badges away from becoming an Eagle Scout.
Norton said he is currently working on finishing merit badge requirements in family life, fitness and personal management.
For Norton, the family life merit badge involves activities like “chores” and working with his parents and siblings as a team to accomplish goals around the house. Personal management involves learning life skills such as managing personal finances and the fitness merit badge requirements challenge him reach a higher level of personal heath.
Norton said, the more challenging of the three is the fitness merit badge.
“I rarely do anything,” Norton chuckled.
Jennet describes Norton as “very helpful and polite” and “a lot of fun to be around.”
“If there is ever anything to be done, ask him,” said Jennet. “He’s always very happy to do it.”
A significant portion of the Eagle rank requirements is for the Scout to perform a service project, benefiting the community, school or religious institution.
Of the three in the running to become the 100th Eagle Scout, Norton is the only one to have finished his Eagle Scout service project. For his project, Norton, with the help of his troop and their parents, Norton landscaped the memorial garden at Greater Regional Medical Center after Creston’s 2004 tornado by removing debris, digging up shrubs, rebuilding new flower beds and placing new plants with supplies donated by Akin Building Center, Green Valley Pest Control and Lawn Care, Kelly’s Flowers and Savta’s Greenhouse in Creston.
Norton said he stays focused with the encouragement of his parents, particularly his mother who is an active Boy Scout volunteer.
“My mom ... used to be the Girl Scout leader,” said Norton. “She’s been helping through everything and I am really grateful for that.”
Brenton Barber and Dylan Anson, both 13, of Creston, are currently first class Boy Scouts, three ranks below Eagle.
Barber, who is the son of Casey Barber and Charlotte Fletcher of Creston, began his scouting experience as a Cub Scout and has been a Boy Scout for two years.
Aside from Scouts, Barber is also an active volunteer through his church, United Baptist Presbyterian Church of Mount Ayr.
His mother described him as a “loyal and trustworthy” kid who is “very dedicated to his scouting.”
Barber has helped staff pancake suppers at his church and most recently volunteered serving meals at a homeless shelter in Kansas City.
Anson, who is the son of Joe and Tina Anson of Creston, is the troop’s senior patrol leader. At 13, Anson runs the meetings, picks out meal plans, camp houses and projects.
When asked what it takes to become an Eagle Scout, Anson said it’s a lot of work and Scouts who don’t make the rank just don’t try hard enough.
“You have to be determined to get it,” said Anson.
Through Scouts, Anson has also become a junior certified scuba diver. After taking courses at Southern Prairie YMCA, Anson put his skills to the test in the depths of Mermit Springs, a spring-feed quarry in southern Illinois.
Currently, Brenton and Anson are working together on a “citizenship in the community” merit badge, which requires eight hours of service projects. To meet this badge requirement, Barber and Anson are working on building a house with Habitat for Humanity in Creston with the guidance of Troy Petersen, their merit badge counselor.
Jennet said Eagle Scouts possess a set of character traits, which include maturity, loyalty, integrity and leadership.
“The goal of the scouting program is building tomorrow’s leaders through character and leadership,” said Jennet.
With all of the community service hours required to pass through the ranks, Jennet said said there are 24, not including the hours spent on an Eagle Scout service project.
“Multiply that by the number of boys that have gone through the program and there’s a lot of benefit to the community.”
For more information on Boy Scouts of America, contact Jennet at (641) 782-4543, Gordon Crawford at (641) 782-4543 or visit www.crestonscouts.com online.