GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Eagle Scout is the highest rank a scout in the Boys Scouts of American can obtain and since its inception in 1911, over 2 million scouts have earned this honor. Their ranks boast presidents, astronauts, Medal of Honor recipients, actors and athletes. Joining this prestigious order this week is U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria's own Harrison R. Marcouxbeatty.
"Boy scouting is not about rank," said Maj. Benjamin Palmer, Troop 261 scout master. "It's about life experiences. Harrison is one of those scouts you can count on. He's a very capable young man who has been a stalwart in the troop and has held some critical positions and done well at them."
Earning Eagle Scout is no easy matter and only about 5 percent of all boy scouts achieve it. Requirements include demonstrating proficiency in leadership, service, and outdoor skills as well as a minimum of 21 merit badges. Of the 120 merit badges available for boy scouts to earn, 12 specific ones are required for Eagle Scout including First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the World, Environmental Science, and Family Life.
In addition, candidates must complete a service project for their community. According to the National Eagle Scout Association, Eagle Scouts collectively contribute more than 3 million service hours a year in completion of these projects, and in 2011 that number peaked at 10 million hours.
As part of his Eagle Scout service project Marcouxbeatty led a group of volunteers in four environmental conservation projects around USAG Bavaria.
"We had about 10 or 12 volunteers," Marcouxbeatty said, "with each group having about four or five people."
The groups each took on one aspect of making improvements to the nature trail near the Wild Boar, Outdoor Recreation Center at Dick Hautner Lake near Tower Barracks.
One group constructed and installed signs identifying 13 native tree species along the nature trail near the outdoor classroom.
"We cut up the wood, hinged it together, then had the people at the craft center burn on images we gave them," said Marcouxbeatty. "So, each one has a leaf on the top, and when you lift it, you learn the name of the tree."
Another group built and installed bat boxes for housing migrating bats.
"There are plenty of designs floating around the internet," said Marcouxbeatty. "My dad (James Beatty) and I looked up designs and what bats prefer size-wise. It needed to be out of the weather, not open so much to the light, and small enough that they can congregate together and warm up."
They also constructed a bug hotel to provide shelter and protection for wood bees and other insects.
Additionally, Marcouxbeatty created and installed four recycling containers for plastic grocery bags at the dog walk parks at Tower Barracks and Rose Barracks. The idea is to promote recycling by having community members donate their bags by dropping them off in the PVC containers mounted on the fence, which will then provide bags for dog owners to clean up after their pets. This also saves the garrison the money it would normally spend for the current collection bags purchased for the parks.
"It feels good to be able to do something for the community," Marcouxbeatty said. "Some service projects are kind of fleeting; you clean up an area but over time it just fades, so it's good to make something that's somewhat more lasting, you can come back and look on it and say 'I did that.'"
While officially now an Eagle Scout, Marcouxbeatty's investment ceremony will be held next month as part of the Boy Scout of America Normandy Camporee in Normandy, France. Over 7,000 boy scouts from around the world are expected to attend as part of the commemorative ceremonies for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.
"Because we're in Europe, there's so much opportunity here for history," said Palmer. "(The Camporee) is a great opportunity to be standing on the beach where so many men have sacrificed so much, and to be awarded the rank of Eagle Scout at that location is premiere."
Marcouxbeatty said his seven year journey to Eagle Scout was a long road, but definitely worth it.
"I think being an Eagle Scout is really just a good way to be as a person," he said. "It teaches you great values, and good life skills. I'm really glad I got to experience that."