Less than 6% of Scouts ever earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank, and only a fraction of a percent earn all 139 merit badges attainable in the organization. One of those elite few is a Pearland resident.
On March 21, Shadow Creek High School senior Sean Stewart was honored at Pearland’s Troop 464’s Court of Honor for earning all 139 merit badges. Even more remarkable, Stewart joins his older brothers Conner Stewart and Ian Stewart to become the third person in his family to accomplish this feat.
“It’s been really meaningful for learning new things and gaining new experiences, but also being able to use things in my day-to-day life that I don't think I would have known before without having taken the classes, from sewing to aviation,” Stewart told Community Impact.
As the nation’s largest youth program for values-based leadership training, Boy Scouts of America has over 2.1 million members between the ages of 5 and 21. Like many Scouts, Stewart entered the program as a Cub Scout, the preliminary to the Boy Scouts, at the age of 8.
“If citizenship, character development and physical fitness are important attributes that you want to see in your future leaders, I don't think there's any better program than the Scouting program designed to get them there,” Troop 464 Charter Organization Representative Craig Slater said.
The Stewart brothers are fourth-generation Scouts in a legacy that begins with their great-grandfather Ewing Stewart, who served as a scoutmaster at the Greater Yosemite Council. Headquartered in Modesto, California, the Greater Yosemite Council is one of the organization's earliest, originally founded in 1920 as the Modesto Council, 10 years after the national organization was formed.
The merit badges place a broad emphasis on local community service. A few of the projects the about 85 members of Troop 464 have undertaken in Pearland and the Greater Houston area include building outdoor picnic tables and cabinets for local schools, painting the First United Methodist Church Pearland and volunteering at the Adult Education Center.
To attain the rank of Eagle Scout, Scouts must complete an Eagle Scout Service Project, or simply Eagle Project, which demonstrates leadership and benefits their community. Since its founding in 1965, Troop 464 has seen over 100 scouts attain the rank of Eagle Scout.
“I tell them to look around your community and see what people need, and out of that need comes a good project,” said Troop 464 Scoutmaster Erik Stewart, who is also Sean Stewart’s father.
As a soccer player, Stewart wanted to give back to both the community and the sport for his Eagle Project. Stewart collected shoes, jerseys, balls, shin guards and other gear from local schools and clubs, like the Shadow Creek Soccer Club, to donate to the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Passback program, which distributes the donated equipment to children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate in the sport.
Beyond developing leadership skills among youth, the Scouts program also serves as an introduction and path to future career opportunities. In pursuing the Engineering Merit Badge, Stewart got to talk with an engineer about his job experiences and the benefits of being an engineer. Stewart said this experience partially contributed to his decision to pursue a chemical or mechanical engineering degree at Texas A&M after he graduates in May.