Fly like an Eagle Scout
17-year-old plans service project to attain top honor
It takes hard work and years of commitment, but one Austin teenager will soon accomplish something that most never do. Michael Hanson, 17, will become an Eagle Scout.
The longtime Boy Scout is just days away from completing his Eagle Scout project, which will put him on his way to receiving the Eagle Scout designation. Only 2 percent of Boy Scouts nationwide ever become Eagle Scouts, according to Michael’s father and Troop 113 Scout Master Brent Hanson.
“Michael started as a Cub Scout in first grade, and his goal, even back then, was an Eagle Scout,” Brent said.
Michael kept his word. Brent mentioned many Boy Scouts almost become Eagle Scouts but never complete their service projects, which is the last project before becoming an Eagle.
“It’s a longtime commitment to get there,” Brent said.
Michael said Boy Scouts isn’t stressful, but there is a lot of responsibility. He currently is a scout leader to 36 area boy scouts.
“It’s definitely a challenge sometimes,” he said.
And even after a scout climbs through the tiers of Boy Scouts and reaches the end, he must create his own service project — something original. Michael recently did that, and he will undertake his project this Saturday, March 17, at the Carex Wildlife Management Area near Moscow.
As a pheasant hunter, Michael knew he wanted to serve Pheasants Forever. And he was fortunate, as Sue Olson, Pheasants Forever president, had a project for Michael that was long overdue. The Carex WMA has nearly 500 yards of barbed wire fence, posts and various debris piles, which Olson has wanted removed since the mid-1990s. Coordinating a large-scale effort is time consuming and can cost money, but Michael’s project took the burden off Olson and Pheasants Forever.
“We were like, ‘Oh my God,’” Olson said about Pheasants Forever members’ reactions to the project. “We’re so excited; this is great.”
Olson feels fortunate that Michael is undertaking the project because it opened the door for similar projects with the Boy Scouts and other groups. Olson said no service groups had ever approached her with such a proposition.
However, Olson realizes the project will be hard work, which is why she respects Michael’s ambition.
“Generally, I think it is an amazing demonstration of a young man’s commitment to finishing something that is difficult,” she said. “This isn’t the type of thing you usually see a 17-year-old take on.”
And Michael has already taken on some of the work. He has posted fliers about his project around town and is looking for volunteers. Furthermore, all of the fence and debris has been mapped with GPS for efficiency. Now, Michael is hoping for other Boy Scouts and volunteers to join his project, which will begin 10 a.m. this Saturday northwest of Austin on rural 890th Avenue. Volunteers should bring rugged clothing, gloves, wire cutters and plenty of water. Carpooling is also suggested, as parking is limited.
After Michael completes his project, he will remain involved in Scouts, too. He and Brent have watched the number of Boy Scouts grow in the past years — some who also may become Eagle Scouts some day. Michael knows their time and commitment will be well worth it.
“There are a lot of life experiences that you can get out of Scouts,” he said.