FORT MILL — After years of hard work within the Boy Scouts, Will Steele and Jacob Hughes of Troop 219 earned the highest possible rank, Eagle Scout, during a celebration at the Rush Pavilion at the Anne Springs Close Greenway on May 24.
Steele and Hughes put in hours of volunteer work at the greenway to complete their Eagle Scout service projects. Completing a service project is one of many steps a Boy Scout must taketo advance to the rank of Eagle Scout.
Hughes’ project involved removing invasive, non-native shrub species from one of the greenway’s trails before a festival last year; Steele’s project was replacing the decking boards of the Steele Creek suspension bridge.
Steele’s father, Bill Steele, is the assistant leader for Troop 219 and is also the director of the greenway.
“I just saw the awesome potential for the 2,100 acres of property here to provide projects for the Eagle candidates to work on,” Bill Steele said. “It was a mutually beneficial endeavor.”
Since Bill Steele made the connection, nearly 70 members from local Boy Scout troops have risen to the rank of Eagle Scout through the completion of a service project at the greenway. Hughes and Steele have both been members of the Boy Scouts for more than 10 years, so reaching the rank of Eagle Scouts has been a long time coming.
“It feels really good, like it all paid off,” Will Steele said.
Earning the rank of Eagle Scout is no easy task. Aside from their service project, both Hughes and Steele had to earn 21 merit badges, participate in leadership roles in the Scouts, complete paperwork and go through a final review board.
Finishing the process came as a major relief to Hughes.
“Finally mom’s off my back about getting the project and all the paper work done,” Hughes joked. “It feels great to finally have the rank.”
Hughes and Steele were sworn in with the Eagle Scout oath and were presented their Eagle Scout medals by their mothers and their Eagle Scout neckerchiefs by their fathers.
The newly sworn in Eagle Scouts returned the favor, presenting their mothers with miniature Eagle Scout pins for their love, faith, encouragement and faith in the boys’ futures as they made their way through the Boy Scout ranks.
The large crowd of family, friends and fellow Scouts included state S.C. House District 26 Rep. Raye Felder, (R-Fort Mill), who presented the two Scouts with a certificate of recognition.
“It’s such an honor to be here,” Felder said. “This is what makes Fort Mill so special. Look how many people are here in support of these two young men, who one day will be tomorrow’s leaders.”
Troop 219 Scoutmaster Jim Navey also spoke, congratulating Hughes and Steele and thanking them for their efforts.
“Both have served in leadership positions over the years, but more important than that, they have served as examples to the other Scouts in the troop and also have supported and taught the leaders a few things as well,” he said.