Being part of Boy Scouts of America, Alex Sturgill knew the Scout’s promise.
Between the Tenderfoot and Second Class ranks, though, he said he was really losing interest in Boy Scouts and didn’t want to continue.
Then his grandfather died, and he had wanted Sturgill to work up to the highest honor: Eagle Scout.
“He wanted me to become an Eagle Scout, so I promised him I would,” Sturgill said. “He really wanted me to pursue this, so I did it.”
Sturgill came up with a project in 2019, stayed devoted even through the COVID-19 pandemic and recently went through his court of honor, officially being named an Eagle Scout.
His project involved building six wooden shelving units for I Care Ministries Food Pantry, which operates out of Seymour Harvest Church.
“It was actually really satisfying. I enjoyed it,” the 18-year-old said. “The feeling of accomplishment was nice. So were the comments about the shelves because I believe it significantly improved the food pantry’s efficiency.”
Sturgill said he started with Cub Scouts in first grade after his parents, Brian and Nicole Sturgill, encouraged him to join to learn some basic life skills. A few years in, he joined Boy Scouts.
“I learned stuff from geography to just communication skills,” he said. “My communication skills have improved significantly since I joined Scouting. It has also taught me significant leadership qualities that I see kind of lacking in today’s society. It has really helped in not only leadership, I know how to start a fire, tie a knot, cook bacon.”
He also was nominated to join Scouting’s national honor society, Order of the Arrow, and the Hoosier Trails Council’s leadership executive committee.
Those unique experiences, plus the influence of his grandfather, encouraged Sturgill to work up to Eagle Scout.
In 2019, he had been volunteering at the food pantry for nearly two years and saw how disorganized it was in terms of shelving and storage.
“I always asked them to help (in the pantry). I just enjoy helping people, and it’s just fun to help people who need it. I really got joy from that,” Sturgill said. “They had boxes just stacked on top of each other. It was very unstable, and I was like, ‘Shelving units would make this a much easier process and safer for storage, reduce accidents.’ I asked if I could build shelves, and they said, ‘Yes.’”
He then submitted his project application, which included what he was going to do, a design for the shelves and a list of the materials needed.
Once that was approved, he gathered the materials and kept track of the hours he put into making the six shelving units. Sturgill estimated that took 70-plus hours.
The pandemic presented some challenges and delayed installation of the shelves until January 2021. By that point, the church and pantry also had moved from near downtown Seymour to the far east side of the city along U.S. 31.
Sturgill received help building the shelves from his father and also fellow Scout Carter Murphy.
“We did come up with clever designs, such as making them link together so they can attach and reduce the amount of space they take up while also creating more support between them,” Sturgill said. “I designed them to make them as universal as possible to maximize the efficiency of them.”
He took before and after photos of the space and said it looked completely different. Those photos were included with the final Eagle Scout application paperwork, which had to be approved by Boy Scouts of America and returned to the Hoosier Trails Council to set up a court of honor.
It was approved at the national level in July, and the court of honor was Oct. 30 at First United Methodist Church in Seymour, where Boy Scout Troop 529 is based.
“I remember shaking everyone’s hand, shaking the mayor’s hand, shaking Kevin Cottrill’s hand. I had community leaders around me. I had the Dyers there, two former Eagle Scouts there, R.J. Beavers and Farron Dyer,” Sturgill said. “It was cool seeing everyone who supported me all the way to this point.”
Now having the Eagle Scout rank, Sturgill expects it to help him in several ways moving forward in life, including putting that on college applications and résumés for jobs.
He has applied to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and hopes to go there to pursue a mechanical engineering degree and take the Rose Squared program to earn a master’s degree in four years.
“I’ve actually planned out the next 50 years of my life,” he said. “I plan on hopefully going to Rose, getting an internship with Chevy, then going to Chevy’s Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, for probably seven to 10 years and then starting my own manufacturing business.”
Being 18, this is Sturgill’s final year of Boy Scouts. The Seymour High School senior also is involved in the Mayor’s Youth Council, National Honor Society, Key Club, bowling team and marching band.
His younger brother, Zachary Sturgill, is a freshman at SHS and also is in Scouts.
Alex said he hopes he inspires his brother and other Scouts to pursue the Eagle Scout rank and also wants other kids to do Scouting. The rank order is Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle.
“I really hope that I encourage them to join because Scouting numbers have dropped significantly,” he said. “I hope I encourage more people to join, and I really hope they seek to pursue the same title I pursued because I believe only 4% of Scouts get this rank. I’d love to see other people in Seymour obtain it.”