McGregor Troop 32 continues to churn out Eagle Scouts

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Since Jim Farnsworth (left) and Tom Sinclair took over as assistant scoutmaster and scoutmaster, respectively, of McGregor’s Troop 32, 29 Boy Scouts have become Eagle Scouts. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Situated along the Mississippi River, McGregor sees its share of eagles, and not just of the bird variety. Over the past 20 years, 29 Boy Scouts—as many as five in one year—have earned the rank of Eagle. Several more are working toward scouting’s highest rank this year.

Tom Sinclair and Jim Farnsworth have presided over McGregor’s Troop 32 as scoutmaster and assistant scoutmaster, respectively, since 1989. McGregor’s abundant Eagle population is indicative of  hardworking boys and supportive parents, they said.

To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must progress through the ranks, beginning at Tenderfoot, and earn 21 merit badges. They must also serve in a troop leadership position for six months and take part in a scoutmaster conference. The biggest piece is the completion of a service project, through which each scout must demonstrate his leadership abilities.

“Once they’re working toward being an Eagle, there’s the belief that they’ve learned all the rank requirements,” Sinclair said. “Now, they have to show leadership in picking, developing, presenting and carrying out a project.”

Over the years, said Sinclair, the prospective Eagles led some good community projects. They’ve done everything from making park signs and painting buildings to mapping trails, installing benches, building a replica bald eagle nest, renewing hedge rows and creating a firefighter memorial. Some upcoming projects will include cleaning and straightening Civil War markers at Pleasant Grove Cemetery, creating a veterans memorial and developing a sign that will go in front of McGregor City Hall.

Although he and Farnsworth make project suggestions, especially if they have connections, Sinclair said it’s up to the scouts to select an idea that interests them. There is no set timeline for the project, as long as it’s completed by the scout’s 18th birthday.

“It can be one hour as long as he demonstrates leadership,” Sinclair said. “Most are up over 100 hours with labor, planning and meetings. There’s a lot of paperwork; they have to plan out and keep a record of everything.”

Sinclair and Farnsworth were quick to deflect credit for the troop’s Eagle success.

“We supply the tools and materials, and they do the work,” said Farnsworth, adding that he and Sinclair also help the boys locate resources and merit badge opportunities. They also credited Camp Klaus, their summer camp, for offering numerous rank advancement and merit badge opportunities.

Parents are instrumental in keeping the boys motivated through their busy teenage years, said Sinclair, especially when the three “Ws” come along: work, women and wheels.

“Once those kick in, it’s a lot longer between rank advancements,” Sinclair noted. “That’s where the parents come in to help support them.”

Sinclair and Farnsworth said some scouts have become Eagles as early as 16, while others barely completed their projects before adulthood.

“There’s been a few I’ve had to turn in the day before,” Sinclair said.

No matter what, he said he’s proud of their accomplishments.

“I look at them as my foster sons, and I’m proud of all their accomplishments both in and outside scouting,” he said. “I enjoy seeing some of them come back or parents saying ‘so and so is a cubmaster now.’”

Farnsworth agreed, noting, “It’s fun watching them grow up.” Each time he interacts with the scouts, he said, it’s like taking a snap shot of their lives. “Then they’re 16 or 17, totally different from when they came in.”

A growth in self-confidence is one of the biggest attributes Eagle Scouts gain, Sinclair said.

“They came in as new scouts, and were maybe not in Cub Scouts, shy and timid,” he added. “By the time they’re an Eagle, it’s just night and day.”

Scouting also helps boys meet new people and learn how to cooperate well with others. This is particularly true when they attend summer camp, meeting 120 to 130 kids from different cultures and economic backgrounds.

In addition, scouting helps boys learn about and develop a variety of interests. Around 140 merit badges are offered in areas like cooking, photography, communication, science and disabilities awareness, allowing scouts to test the waters of potential career paths.

“It gives them a wide look, a big overview, of life,” Farnsworth said.

In the past 20 years, those who have become Eagle Scouts include:

1995—Brian Brummel, Benjamin Mullarkey and Jeremiah Sinclair.

1996—Joshua Cantu and Peter Mullarkey.

1998—Jeremiah Cantu and Travis Weipert.

1999—Jacob Cantu, Derek DuCharme, Jason Sinclair and Peter Strutt.

2001—Jeffrey Bickel.

2002—Collin Nelson.

2004—Nathan Schultz.

2005—Ryan Lange.

2006—David Fahey.

2007—Frank Breitbach and Bryant Nelson.

2008—Andrew Adney and Harlan Greener.

2010—Zachary Sauer.

2012—Isaac Greener, Adam Greener, Tyler Rochleau, Taylor Breitbach and John Stavroplus.

2014—Christopher Larson, Drake Jensen and Isaac Sauer.

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