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Three new Eagles soar

Traditionally, mothers pin the Eagle Scout badge on their son. Max Phannenstiel's mom, Lindy, pins the Eagle Scout medal on her son during his Eagle Scout Court of Honor, as his dad, Eric, looks on. Max is with Troop 231.
Molly Phannenstiel|Special to the Daily |

Notable Eagle Scouts

Four Nobel Prize Laureate Eagle Scouts: Dudley R. Herschbach, Peter Agre, Robert Coleman Richardson and Frederick Reines.

Gerald R. Ford, 38th president of the United States

Neil Armstrong, First man on the moon

Steve Fossett, world-record holder; first to circumnavigate Earth solo in a balloon and an airplane

Willie Banks, Olympic athlete, former world-record holder in triple jump and long jump

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City

Guion “Guy” S. Bluford Jr., retired U.S. Air Force officer and space shuttle astronaut; first African American in space

Bill Bradley, former professional basketball player, U.S. senator, and presidential candidate

Stephen Breyer, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Mike Crapo, U.S. senator from Idaho

William C. DeVries, M.D., surgeon and educator; transplanted the first artificial heart

Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts and presidential candidate

Mike Enzi, U.S. senator from Wyoming

Thomas Foley, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and ambassador to Japan

Chan Gailey, college and professional football coach

John Garamendi, lieutenant governor of California

Bill Gates Sr., CEO of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; father of Bill Gates

Robert Gates, U.S. secretary of defense and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Michael Kahn, Academy Award–winning film editor

James A. Lovell Jr., former U.S. Navy officer and Apollo 13 commander

Gary Locke, Former governor of Washington; first Chinese American governor in the United States

Richard G. Lugar, U.S. senator from Indiana

J. Willard Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International

George Meyer, writer and producer of “The Simpsons”

Ben Nelson, U.S. senator from Nebraska

H. Ross Perot, founder of EDS and Perot Systems; former presidential candidate

Rick Perry, Governor of Texas

Beasley Reece, former NFL player and sportscaster

Mike Rowe, host of “Dirty Jobs” television program

Donald Rumsfeld, former U. S. secretary of defense

Jefferson Sessions, U.S. senator from Alabama

William S. Sessions, former federal judge and director of the FBI

John Tesh, recording artist and performer

Togo West, former U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs and secretary of the Army

Scouting’s highest honor was created in 1911. The first Eagle Scout medal was awarded in 1912 to Arthur Rose Eldred, a 17-year-old member of Troop 1 of Rockville Center, Long Island, New York. Eldred earned his Eagle award even before the badge’s design was finished, so he had to wait until Labor Day, Sept. 2, 1912. Eldred’s son and grandson earned the Eagle rank as well.

In 1982, 13-year-old Alexander Holsinger, of Normal, Ill., was recognized as the one-millionth Eagle Scout. In 2009, Anthony Thomas of Lakeville, Minn., was recognized as the two-millionth Eagle Scout.

EAGLE COUNTY — Three local Boy Scouts joined the ranks of astronauts, presidents and captains of industry as Eagle Scouts.

Like any long-term goal worth achieving, Max Phannenstiel, Kelby Denissen and Abraham Luevano had to work at it one step at a time.

Along the road to Eagle Scout they learn leadership, organizational and problem solving skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.



It’s also fun.

For these three, the trail to Eagle Scout included a sailing trip in the Bahamas, multiple trips to Catalina Island off the coast of California, earning their scuba diving certification, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Scouting at the National Jamboree and dozens of other adventures.



Earning your Eagle

Eagle projects means organizing people and materials.

In 2015, Eagle Scouts led 8,503,337 hours of volunteer service.



An Eagle Scout service project is designed to help any religious institution, any school or the community. The written project plan must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, the scoutmaster and troop committee and the council or district before you start.

All about Eagles

Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in Boy Scouts of America.

About 4 percent of Scouts earn the Eagle rank.

Of the tens of millions of young men who’ve been Boy Scouts, fewer than 2 million have earned that rank since it was introduced in 1911.

By the time Eagle Scouts reach that lofty rank, they will have earned at least 21 merit badges and demonstrated Scout Spirit through the Boy Scout Oath and Law, service and leadership.

After all that, the Scout plans, organizes, leads and manages an extensive Eagle service project.

Max Phannenstiel

Troop 231

Max Phannenstiel is one of the handful of Scouts who helped found Troop 231 a few years ago. The troop meets at Trinity Church in Edwards, and is now dozens of Scouts strong. Many are on the road to Eagle.

During his Court of Honor, Phannenstiel said he’s occasionally baffled that people will occasionally take pokes at young people involved with Scouting.

Phannenstiel said he waits calmly for them to finish, which doesn’t take long because people generally don’t think these sorts of things through very carefully, and explains it to them.

“I think about spending eight wonderful days on a boat sailing around the Bahamas, and I think about two trips to Catalina Island off the coast of California, I think about all the survival, organization and leadership skills I learned and how they can be applied to almost any situation, I think about living by the Scout Oath and the Scout Law, and I wonder why wouldn’t anyone want to be involved in Scouting?” Phannenstiel said.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, said Patrick Beaudine, speaking at Phannenstiel’s Eagle Court of Honor.

“Eagle Scouts create a game plan and stick to it,” Beaudine said. “Struggle is good for you.”

New to Eagle Scout projects is an environmental component. Phannenstiel’s improved and expanded a natural outdoor playground and hiking trail at the Walking Mountains Science Center. Peter Suneson, also an Eagle Scout, was his mentor.

“The foremost responsibility of an Eagle Scout is to live with honor,” Suneson said.

Kelby Denissen

Troop 222

Among other things, Scouting taught Kelby Denissen leadership skills and self-motivation.

Like the time he and Troop 222 from Eagle traveled all the way to Catalina Island, 28 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, California. When the people who were supposed to be in charge ended up spending all week in scuba class, Denissen stepped up to run things that week. He had been taught how, so everything went smoothly.

Besides Catalina Island, Scouting sent Denissen sailing through the Bahamas, to the National Jamboree for Scouting’s 100th anniversary, along with lots of other adventures. He’s headed for Northern Tier this summer, a canoe adventure where they paddle canoes around northern Minnesota and Canada for seven days.

For his Eagle project, he worked with Perry Wills of Colorado’s Department of Parks and Wildlife to create fish habitat for the Gypsum ponds.

He spotted it when he traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for yet another adventure and the National Order of the Arrow Convention.

He brought the idea back to Colorado and worked with Wills.

It’s not complicated or expensive, he said.

“Most of the best things in life are like that,” Denissen said.

Denissen has been in Scouting since first grade. The adventures are great, and so are the life lessons, he said.

“The Scout Oath and the Scout Law are a good way to live,” he said.

He recently graduated Vail Christian High School and is on his way to Montana State University to study snow science. His goal is to be an avalanche researcher.

Abraham Luevano

Troop 222

Like most Eagle Scouts, Abraham Luevano ascended to Scouting’s highest rank while juggling all sorts of other things.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

“Being an Eagle Scout, living the Scout Oath and the Scout Law in my everyday life, is awesome,” Luevano said.

The Red Canyon High School graduate played basketball for Battle Mountain. He’s headed to Colorado Mesa University to play college basketball for the Mavericks.

No one gets to Eagle alone. Luevano, for example, wanted to say thanks to Top Notch Lumber for their donation, to Rogelio Martinez and Juan Carlos Leal for being his mentors, and to “my homies and family who helped.”

“I appreciate the time everyone took to help me with this great accomplishment,” Luevano said.

Along with Scouts and leaders from Troop 222 in Eagle, he worked with Peter Suneson with the Walking Mountains Science Center for his Eagle project, a bridge that spans a creek along one of the Walking Mountains hiking trails.

There are those moments when the Scouts themselves would rather do something else. Still, Eagle Scouts stick with it, sometimes with a little outside motivation.

“I’m very thankful that my parents sometimes dragged me to Boy Scouts,” Luevano said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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