By Brandon Kathman
Two scouts with Troop 443 in Spring Hill completed major service projects for the community in April, putting Scouting’s highest honor, the Eagle Scout rank, within their reach.
For Daniel Pecora and Caleb Sbani, achievement of the Eagle badge represents a goal they have been working toward for years. Earning the rank takes most scouts the better part of a decade, culminating in a large service project for the benefit of the community. Only about 6% of registered scouts ever earn the rank, making Eagle Scouts highly sought after by many colleges and employers.
“The Eagle rank is the most honorable, prestigious and sought-after award in the Boy Scouts of America,” Dwayne Jones, the local council’s director of field service, said. “Their character will make a positive impact on their communities for years to come.”
For his project, Pecora created a mulched nature trail for use by the Gulf Coast Academy of Science and Technology. Having blazed the trail, he installed informative signs on posts to help students identify local plants and animals. Finally, he constructed three 17” bat boxes and placed them around the property. Pecora graduated from the school in 2017, and the project provided an opportunity for him to give back.
Sbani partnered with the Springs Coast Environmental Center on the Weeki Wachee River. Under his leadership, scouts from across Hernando County laid 956 lbs. of stepping stones and seven tons of river rock on an existing path to improve accessibility of the property. According to Sbani, over 40 people worked on the project, contributing a collective 288 service hours.
With their projects finished, the young men will soon go before an Eagle Board of Review, which will determine they have completed the requisite tasks to achieve Eagle. Steve Epple, the district’s Eagle Board chairman, said that these two will likely be the latest of a recent spike in youth achieving the rank. 2020 saw 28 youth earn Eagle, more than double any year prior, and the trend appears to have continued into 2021.
“They’re both highly qualified,” Epple said of Pecora and Sbani. “I attended Summer Camp with their troop last year and saw the boys perform as natural leaders throughout the week.”