Newly minted Eagle Scouts reach out to community
Two Woodbury residents have earned their wings by accomplishing their Eagle Scout project.
Woodbury residents Miles Winston and Marcus Flowers, former members of Northern Star Zulu District Troop 61, have both earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest ranking of Boy Scouts.
A third troop member, Javari Porter of Maplewood, also completed his Eagle Scout project.
The Northern Star Council is made up of a variety of community organizations that join in partnership with the Northern Star Council to charter 1,417 Boy Scouts of America.
The Zulu District of the Northern Star Council, which is housed out of Pilgrim Baptist Church in St. Paul, is focused on the African-American community. The goal of Zulu District is to "provide traditional Scouting programs in traditional and non-traditional ways," according to its website.
In order to earn the rank of Eagle Scout a Boy Scout must fulfill numerous criteria, including attaining 21 merit badges, demonstrate leadership and take part in a Scoutmaster conference.
The final requirement is to plan, develop and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school or the community.
The project must benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.
Once the project is complete, the candidate must successfully complete an Eagle Scout board of review.
Watching the neighborhood
Woodbury High School graduate Flowers, who is currently majoring in biomedical engineering as a freshman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, has been involved with scouting for as far back as he can remember.
Before joining Boy Scouts in 2006, he was an active Cub Scout for six years.
"I've been with scouts ever since my memory started kicking in," he said. "It just became a part of my life."
Flowers said his favorite aspects of Boy Scouts are camping and other various activities.
"I like being able to go to a camp, have fun camping and get rewarded for it," he said.
Throughout his time with Boy Scouts, Flowers has completed 1,600 hours of volunteer service, programming, scout meetings and community-oriented activities.
For his Eagle Scout project, Flowers initially thought of developing a foreign language program at the Montessori school where he used to attend.
However, that didn't pan out since a program was just recently developed.
As an alternative project, Flowers decided to establish a neighborhood watch in his Sunbury Drive neighborhood.
"It helps the neighbors get to know each other while keeping an eye on the kids in the neighborhood," he said.
For the project, Flowers organized student volunteers to distribute neighborhood watch information to 30 households to encourage the creation of neighborhood watch groups within each neighborhood canvassed.
Flowers also worked with the Woodbury Police Department to organize and host informational meetings for interested neighbors to learn more about the neighborhood watch program.
In the end, three different neighborhood watch programs were established.
"We just thought people would feel better if there were smaller groups since they have different social circles," he said.
Flowers said his neighborhood watch program is slightly different than others in that it's not formal.
Rather than have a group of people assigned to combing the neighborhood every night, all neighbors just keep an eye out and if they see something they call.
"It's more passive and just keeping watch," he said. "It's not a vigil. For example, if you see your neighbor's garage open you should let them know."
Flowers also helped communicate what steps neighbors should take if there is an emergency.
The biggest part of the neighborhood watch program, Flowers said, is that he helped establish a "safe house" where the children of the neighborhood can go if there is a problem.
"They are taken into the house no questions asked," Flowers said.
Helping the needy
Woodbury High School graduate Winston, currently a freshman at Century College in White Bear Lake majoring in business administration, joined Boy Scouts almost by accident in 2004.
The troop was meeting at his church and he just kind of joined.
"At first I didn't want to be there, but after a while I decided to stick around," he said.
During his time with Boy Scouts, Winston has completed 2,000 hours of community service.
Winston said his favorite aspects of Boys Scouts are camping, field trips, meeting new people, making new friends and helping around the community.
Winston said Boy Scouts has helped him make good connections and develop his leadership skills.
For his Eagle Scout project, Winston organized a communitywide clothing drive at his church, Pilgrim Baptist Church.
"Usually the church does a clothing drive, but it's often lackluster," he said. "There's a lot of people in need of them."
The clothing drive took place from August to December in 2011.
Winston collected more than 500 clothing items including hats, scarves, gloves, coats, underwear garments, socks, and boots for men, women, and children.
All of the clothing items were donated to families who lived in the Rondo and Frogtown areas of St. Paul.
Tartan High School graduate Parker, who is a freshman at the University of Minnesota, organized a food drive for Woodbury's Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf for his Eagle Scout project.
Parker collected food at a total of six churches.
"Too many people are hungry," he said.
All three Boy Scouts said earning the rank of Eagle Scout was a rewarding experience.
"Just being able to say you're an Eagle Scout and being done finally is great," Winston said.
"Being able to carry that rank of eagle around is pretty rewarding," Flowers said.