Local teens earn Eagle Scout rank


SOAR LIKE AN EAGLE – Incoming senior Andrew Villard and 2022 grad Alex Bouwens have achieved Eagle Scout status, the highest rank of Scouts BSA. – Photo courtesy of Monica Bouwens

It helps being well-grounded when soaring with eagles.

Alex Bouwens, a 2022 La Conner High School grad, and Andrew Villard, an incoming senior, have parlayed self-discipline, perseverance and a commitment to public service into achieving Eagle Scout status, the seventh and highest rank of Scouts BSA.

It is an achievement only 5% of scouts attain.

To earn the Eagle rank, scouts must exhibit sustained leadership in their troop while earning 21 merit badges, 12 of which are required. Those badges reflect a wide-ranging skill set, from physical fitness and citizenship to first aid and emergency preparedness.

Then comes completion of an Eagle Scout service project designed to help a school, religious institution or community.

Bouwens and Villard, members of Conway-based Troop 4056, chose projects that have made an immediate impact.

Bouwens, who will enroll at Western Washington University in the fall – raised over $1,600 in products and quality toiletry bags delivered during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic to the Friendship House men’s shelter in Mount Vernon.

“After seeing many homeless men in our community, I realized it would be hard to feel confident about oneself while trying to find a job and turn your life around without the needed supplies for proper grooming, which can be very expensive,” Bouwens told the Weekly News.

He knew what needed to be done.

“If I made a simple toiletry kit for these men, it would last maybe a week or two if I used travel-size items, and it wouldn’t have as big of an impact as I hoped something like an Eagle project would bring,” Bouwens explained. “So, I sat down and looked over things that I used daily and researched what kinds of products and grooming tools the average man uses every day.

“It really added up,” he stressed.

Bouwens learned first-hand the extent of the impact he was making.

“One man at Friendship House talked about how much it helped him gain back the self-confidence in his looks as he was planning to start a job,” said Bouwens, “and it really moved me to see that I made this impact.”

But perhaps no one said it better than another Friendship House resident who received a toiletry bag.

“You hit it out of the ballpark, man!” he told Bouwens.

Villard, who plans to study diesel mechanics and firefighting after graduation, selected as his Eagle project the design, construction and installation last August of the free-standing “little library” in front of the elementary school.

“I wanted to do my project for the school district that I have been part of since kindergarten,” he said, “and I liked the idea of students having easy access to books during the summer when the school library is closed.”

The public response speaks volumes to Villard’s Eagle Scout project choice and his steadfast determination to achieve scouting’s top honor.

“I’ve received a lot of congratulations from family and friends,” he said. “Teachers and mentors from over the years have also reached out to me to let me know just how proud they are to see me come so far to achieve my goal. For me, the greatest aspect of scouting is definitely the leadership experience that has allowed me to be the best leader I could be.”

Bouwens has received similar feedback.

“I’ve had many people come up to me and talk to me about what a great accomplishment this is and how it will serve me well in my future,” he said. “I think the most worthwhile aspects of scouting for me are being able to give back to the community and learn new skills.”

Bouwens and Villard have continued a legacy established by Troop 4056, led by scoutmasters Angela and Gregory Peterson. Its ranks now feature six Eagles out of 12 members.

That includes Sammy Davidson, the first female Eagle Scout in the Skagit-Whatcom-Island tri-county region, and her brother, Alex Davidson, like Bouwens, a 2022 La Conner graduate.


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