Tomorrow’s leaders

‘Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles.’

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Whether it’s a memorial for fallen police officers, life-saving equipment installed in emergency response equipment or cleaning up the grounds at a local public building, Austin County’s Eagle Scouts are becoming leaders – and they are the community’s future.

Just 4 percent of Boy Scouts achieve the highest rank, which requires them to earn 21 merit badges, complete a service project and appear before a review board.

Sealy High School graduate Mark Bonaccorso said he believes his Eagle Scout honor helped him to get into Texas A&M University.

For his Eagle project, Bonaccorso embarked on a beautification effort at Orchard City Hall. He led several other scouts in building flower beds, leveling the ground and placing stones in the area around the building’s sign.

“I learned a lot about leadership,” Bonaccorso said. “I had to help and direct the younger scouts in my troop, teaching them the best way to do different things. I felt really accomplished.”

Daniel Kutch of Bellville was motivated to have automated external defibrillators installed in emergency response vehicles after his father was saved by one after suffering a heart attack in a local restaurant.

“Because of the quick use of the AED my family is still enjoying dinners with my dad,” Kutch said. “Because of this I have dedicated my Eagle Scout project to raising money to purchase AEDs for our law enforcement agencies.”

Kutch said the main focus of his project is leadership. He wants to go to college and become an engineer.

“As of today there are several police departments in Austin County that do not have a single AED available in their department and in emergency situations, on-duty officers often arrive before EMS,” he said. “These are life-saving tools. I know this because an AED saved my dad’s life.”

Garrison Rutledge, another Bellville student, is also honoring his father, a Department of Public Safety trooper, with his project – a memorial for fallen police officers planned for Jacqueline A. Cryan Memorial Park.

“The reason I want to build this memorial is not only as a substantial Eagle Scout project but as a place to put these stones and any other stones I can find in Austin County,” Rutledge said. “We have concrete and a memorial stone donated already. What we’re looking for is a flagpole and lights so we can light up the memorial.”

The project is the final step in Rutledge’s quest to become an Eagle Scout.

Austin County youth who set out to earn the Eagle Scout rank put a lot of time and effort into their scouting, and probably learn lessons along the way that they’re not even aware of. They make lasting friendships, learn public speaking and grasp the importance of community service.

“In the long run, whenever you see an Eagle Scout, you’re distinguished,” Bonaccorso said. “No one’s going to stop you. It shows that you have a lot of dedication and have put in a lot of hard work. I wouldn’t be here today without scouting.”

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