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The Troop 916 family joined together recently to recognize Daniel Meeks and Erik Lechleitner for achieving the highest rank in scouting – Eagle Scout. This Court of Honor was delayed over a year due to the pandemic and the scout’s college schedules, but finally family and friends were able to join together at the Evanston Ecology Center for the ceremony. Becoming an Eagle Scout has always carried with it a special significance, not only in Scouting but also for the scout as they enter higher education, jobs, and community service. Over the years, fewer than 5% of all eligible Scouts have earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
Each candidate must earn 21 merit badges and successfully lead and complete a community service project to earn Eagle. Daniel chose to dedicate his service project to trail maintenance and building, as well as making some benches to be used in education, at Kankakee River State Park Riding Stables. Erik refurbished a 1927 fire engine that served the City in the previous century, and is now displayed in Fireman’s Park, which is dedicated to Evanston firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to the City. “I wanted to do this project to honor the history and tradition of the department and what they have done for the community,” Erik said.
In addition, Daniel earned a much rarer award that was presented at the same time, the National Medal for Outdoor Achievement, the highest recognition a Scout can earn for displaying exemplary knowledge, experience and skill in high-level outdoor activities. Among many other requirements, it is especially notable that Daniel logged with the troop over 125 nights camping, 500 miles cycling and 300 miles hiking.
Both scouts are now attending college, pursuing interest partly originating from their scouting careers. Daniel is majoring in Mechatronics Engineering at Northern Illinois University, and Erik is majoring in Global Security and Intelligence Studies at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University. Troop 916 is based in Evanston and is sponsored by Evanston’s American Legion Post 42.