ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
It’s an honor less than 4 percent of Boy Scouts ever attain.
Ryan Janzen, a 2004 graduate of Hillsboro High School, will receive the prestigious Eagle Scout award at 2 p.m., Sunday, at the Hillsboro United Methodist Church.
A performance-based achievement, being an Eagle Scout represents all that Boy Scouts embody: citizenship training, character development and personal fitness.
Ryan, the son of Ray and Anne Janzen, said the reality of his accomplishment is just hitting home.
“It hasn’t really all sunk in yet,” he said. “I’m slowly starting to look back and think that all the efforts and hard work has finally paid off.”
Janzen began his scouting career as a first-grader.
“I began as a Tiger Cub,” he said. “Following Cub Scouts and Webeloes, Boy Scouts actually begins.
“You begin as a Tenderfoot, then you advance to Second Class, First Class, Star and finally Life.”
Janzen said Scouts must spend at least six months in each rank, and must earn the rank of Life before beginning work on the coveted Eagle award.
“Each rank requires merit badges you have to earn,” he said. “You also have the requirements for your Eagle award, and you have to attend board reviews, show Scout spirit, and show Scout leadership.”
Leadership is an area Janzen excels in, according to Todd Jost, Troop 129 Scoutmaster and an Eagle Scout himself.
“He’s been good with the younger Scouts and he’s been the best example I could have hoped for,” Jost said. “I don’t think the younger kids really realize what leadership Ryan is providing yet because they’re so young.”
Merit badges signify the mastery of Scoutcraft skills, as well as helping boys increase their skill in an area of personal interest. Of the 120 merit badges available, 21 must be earned to qualify for Eagle Scout.
Janzen has earned 28.
Required badges include first aid, citizenship in the community, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, communications, environmental science, personal fitness, personal management, camping and family life.
Also required are either emergency preparedness or lifesaving -Janzen has both-and a choice of cycling, hiking and swimming.
In addition, Janzen is a member of an elite group call the “Order of the Arrow.”
“We do service work and help out with lots of community projects,” Janzen said. “It’s a pretty special group.”
The process to become an Eagle Scout is tedious at best.
“You have to put a lot of work into it,” Janzen said. “The paperwork is very time consuming and it goes through several committees.
“You also have to pass an interview on top of that, which quizzes you over pretty much everything,” he added. “If they decide you’re worthy of being an Eagle, it goes before the head council and the national council.
“It they all approve you, it comes back and you can begin working on the award.”
Also necessary to qualify for the award process is the completion of an Eagle project.
“Finding a project is a difficult process in itself,” said Anne, Ryan’s mother. “It has to be for the church, school, community or any other organization-but it can’t be for the Scouts themselves.”
Janzen said he began thinking about potential projects during his junior year in high school.
“My project ended up being for the high school,” Janzen said. “I talked to the principal and superintendent and we decided to get rid of the desk and chair at the front entrance to Brown Gymnasium and we built a ticket booth.”
Janzen’s booth is about 6 feet long, 32 inches wide, has two drawers, and allows ticket takers to sit eye level with the game attendees. It was recently adorned with a plaque recognizing Janzen’s contribution to the project.
“It’s made of solid oak with a maroon formica top,” he said. “I spent over 40 hours on the project.”
Part of the requirements were that Janzen had to oversee the project work done by other members of Troop 129.
“I did all the planning,” he said. “Any changes had to be documented and lots of pictures had to be taken.”
During his high school years, Janzen participated in four years of football, wrestling and track. He was a state qualifier in wrestling for two years.
Janzen also was a member of Technology Student Association and FFA and is a member of the Hillsboro United Methodist Church.
Janzen said the support of his family and fellow troop members made his quest a little easier.
“I had a lot of ‘kicks in the butt’ from my mom if I started slacking off,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t like them at the time, but I appreciate them now.”
Janzen said sticking with Scouts was sometimes difficult in a town that doesn’t readily promote the organization.
“Scouting isn’t that big here in Hillsboro,” he said. “Others tend to look down on you if you’re a Boy Scout.”
Scoutmaster Jost agreed, saying Ryan’s accomplishment is magnified because of this.
“I believe this was harder for Ryan than for many Scouts because of the lack of peer support,” Jost said. “Sometimes it’s not cool to be a Scout in Hillsboro, but Ryan put up with a lot of things and persevered to become an Eagle Scout.
“One of the most impressive things about Ryan’s achievement is that he did it without any peers in the Scouting program,” he added. “Usually when boys make it to Eagle, they have some kids with them.
“Ryan was very self-motivated and I find that something I can really respect.”
Janzen said lessons learned in Scouting are lessons learned for a lifetime.
“What I’ve learned in Scouting will carry with me forever,” he said. “There isn’t a thing I’ve learned that will be useless information.
“I’ve learned a lot of different knots, camping skills and even how to cook grasshoppers and a variety of survival skills,” he added. “I’ve always been coached by others about how much this award will help me throughout the rest of my life.
“The amount of leadership skills I’ve learned through organizing functions, events and activities will serve me well no matter what I do in life.”
Janzen said numerous role models have paved the path to his award.
“I think I always looked up to Dale Lowry, who was the last person in Hillsboro to earn the Eagle Scout award 10 years ago,” he said. “My parents and teachers also influenced me, along with by wrestling coaches, Corey Burton and Scott O’Hare.
“I helped a lot with the kids club and I learned you have to be a good role model.”
Janzen also credits his great-uncle, Charles Stinchcomb, and his son, Jason.
“Charles will be the main program at my ceremony, presenting a PowerPoint presentation about what it means to be a Boy Scout,” Janzen said. “His son Jason was also an Eagle Scout and now pilots an F-18 in the Air Force.”
With plans to attend Pratt Community College this fall to pursue a degree in electric power technology, it’s not a surprise Janzen has his career path plotted.
“I want to become a lineman and work on the power lines,” he said. “Someday I’d like to become a Scoutmaster so I can pass along the knowledge I’ve learned and pass along the amount of respect I have for Boy Scouts.”
Janzen said he welcomes anyone to share in the joy of his Eagle Scout ceremonies Sunday.
“I have so many people on my invitation list that I just can’t invite them all,” he said. “Rep. Don Dahl and Mayor Delores Dalke will be there and anyone is welcome to attend.”
Although his days as an active Boy Scout are concluding, Janzen said he has no regrets.
“There’s a lot that I know and I’ve done that others haven’t done nor will they probably ever,” he said. “It’s a good feeling on the inside, knowing I’ve accomplished something not many others will ever do.”
Janzen becomes just the 15th Boy Scout to earn the Eagle Scout award in the organization’s 61 chartered years in Hillsboro.