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Phillip Radon
When patrons of CALM visit the Birds of Prey exhibit, they experience a newly refurbished Bald Eagle Observation Room thanks to Phillip Radon's recent Eagle Scout project. "Eagle scout projects like this enhance the zoo experience for CALM guests," says Lana Fain, Zoo manager.

Mike Radon, Phillip's father, says this undertaking was "as much a work project as it was also a leadership project." His plan included fixing the room's ceiling, repainting the walls, touching up murals, replacing the wood baseboards, and re-tinting the observation window. Phillip performed a lot of the work himself, but he also coordinated discounts, services, and donations with various people and businesses. He even had to design a safety plan to ensure the proper use of ladders and equipment.

In June, Phillip's 21 merit badges, years of community service, and commitment to the Boy Scouts of America paid off. He was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor ceremony. This is an honor that only 2-4 percent of young men who join Boy Scouts ever receive.

Phillip graduated from Stockdale High School and will attend Virginia Military Institute with a Marine ROTC scholarship. He plans on becoming a Marine Corps Officer where he will use his Boy Scout training on a daily basis.

The young men who are involved in the scouting program, and ultimately become Eagle Scouts, develop into effective leaders with a deeper appreciation to service. John Patterson, BSA chartered organization representative for Troop #442, says scouting also teaches independence, self-confidence, and "creates character within young men that people want to see."

The rank of Eagle Scout has long been synonymous with loyalty and honor. "When I hear someone is an Eagle Scout, that's all I need to know about them. I know they are loyal. My opinion of them goes up 100 percent," says Patterson. "It's up to us as scouts to maintain that expectation, so when you look at an Eagle Scout you say, 'You're capable.'"

Last year, the BSA Southern Sierra Council Unit 53 awarded Jacob Graff the rank of Eagle Scout after he completed a project for the Bakersfield Rescue Mission. His project entailed gathering, assigning, sorting, washing, and donating winter clothing to help clothe Bakersfield's homeless population.

When asked why he chose this project, Jacob says, "It seemed to me to be the right thing to do to help the less fortunate in my own community, especially with such a fundamental necessity as warm winter clothing."

Jacob began his scouting experience at the age of five when he tagged along with his father, Jonathan Graff, helping him with his duties as Scoutmaster. He became an official first-year Webelo scout when he was eight years old. After his Eagle Scout distinction, Jacob became a Venture Scout, and with his crew, he will be hiking Mount Whitney this summer.

"Through scouting I am able to be a leader in the community, but also lead by example for my three younger brothers, who hope to achieve this great honor, too," Jacob says. "I have learned to never give up and to do your best to make a difference."

Patterson says the road to achieving Eagle Scout is not an easy one. It entails many steps, merit badges, and requires a unique perspective to accomplish the goals. The local Southern Sierra Council has awarded this rank to almost 80 Boy Scouts over the past year. Some of their community service projects included Hart Park clean up, West Nile virus campaign, Richardson Center toy shed, and many more.

To reach this high honor, the Boy Scout must first earn the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and then, finally Eagle. He must earn 21 merit badges in subjects such as first aid, camping, personal fitness, communications, and many more. He also needs to serve six months in a troop leadership position and take part in a Scoutmaster conference. And then, after finishing his Eagle Scout project, he must successfully complete an Eagle Scout board of review.

For more information on the scouting program, please visit www.nesa.org and www.scouting.org. For more information about the local Boy Scout's Southern Sierra Council, call 325-9036 or visit www.sscbsa.org.

Congratulations to the following Eagle Scout recipients during July 2009- June 2010:

Joseph Towe, Samuel Johnston, Paul Smith, Matthew Burkman, Phillip Radon, Kameron Hudock, Cory Camp, Cameron Dahlquist, Kevin Silken, Kendall Jones, Benjamin Persinger, Simon Goehring, John Stead, Nathaniel Webber, Joseph Gerdeman, Travis Tildahl, Daniel Jameson, Emery Clayson, Joshua Cohen, Matthew Ono, Jacob Neeley, Connor Smith, Trevor Taylor, Mackenzie Villain, Sean Halpin, Dallin Hunt, Andrew Weisz, Spencer McCauley, Zachary St. Johns, Steven Pestana, Scott McCrary, Danny Ingram, Alec Nolan, Mark Heisler, Max Higa, James Winegarner, Alex Lewis, Trevor Martel, Nicholas Stringer, Matthew Walker, Arden Wagoner, Christian Say, Blake Palmer, Ian Dunn, John Toy, Justin Reimer, Nicholas Buttcane, Ethan Brill, Chase Reed, Brandon Reed, Andres Sanchez, Cole Harding, Christian Selby, Kurtis Mende, Matthew Evans, Nathan Klissus, Michael Norris, Nathan Grundhofer, Christopher McKeehan, Clint Shad, Matthew Schutzner, Matthew Beal, Daniel Kooren, Jonathan Schulz, Stephen McCrary, Blake Sampson, Daniel Fox, Erick Herrera, Nathaniel Clair, Michael Turowski, Parker Schill, Daniel Kinder, James Ehteshami, James O'Rourke, Patrick Campbell, Justin Hawley, Matthew Yarlot, Lucas Papac, Ethan Elison, and Kelsey Mende.

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