One of Illinois’ oldest Boy Scout troops recently added four Eagle Scouts to its ranks.
Seth Berenz, Liam Brauer, Frank Irovic and Joel Roth, all of Waterloo Troop 323, recently attained the rank.
Berenz, Irovic and Roth attended a ceremony on April 14 at Waterloo VFW Post 6504 to receive their awards. Brauer was unable to attend due to a school commitment.
At the ceremony, Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith and state Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) honored the scouts further with certificates. Smith presented certificates on behalf of his city and state Rep. Jerry Costello II (D-Smithton).
“It was really cool,” Berenz, 18, said of the ceremony. “I had no idea that it was that big of a deal.”
“I thought it was rather cool,” Roth, 18, agreed. “I didn’t know that Sen. Schimpf came out to Eagle Scout Court of Honors.”
For Irovic, the certificates were not as surprising but they were particularly special.
“I was kind of prepared for that as it has happened before at other ceremonies, but Sen. Schimpf being there was a little surreal since the connection to (my) project,” the 18-year-old said.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America. Only about 4 percent of scouts earn it.
To achieve the rank, scouts must complete requirements like earning a certain number of merit badges and serving in a leadership position within the troop.
The most arduous requirement, however, is the completion of an Eagle Scout project.
For his project, Bauer constructed an information board at Baebler Educational Farm complete with a roof and enclosed display cases.
“We painted it and assembled it just like a jigsaw puzzle,” Brauer, 18, said.
The farm paid for the project via a grant it received for grounds improvement. The work took 170 man hours to complete.
“It’s a relief,” Brauer said of finishing the project. “It’s one less thing on my plate.”
Roth also completed his project at Baebler Educational Farm. He cleared paths and built two bridges across a creek.
“It was really close by and they needed a lot of help out there,” he said of why he picked that project.
The work took 110 hours total and was paid for through the same grant Brauer’s project was funded with.
Roth said he was happy to be done with the project.
“I’m rather relieved, I would say, because I was also trying to do the college process at the same time,” he noted.
Berenz’s project was at Gibault Catholic High School. He placed patio and paving stones in front of the school and planted new trees.
“I thought the gym at Gibault could look a lot better,” Berenz said. “I really like that school a lot, so I thought I could do something to help out the school and try to give back.”
The school paid for the work, and Berenz and his team contributed 119 man hours.
He said it felt gratifying to complete the work.
“It feels really good,” Berenz said. “I worked on that for a long time. I think it was over a year – from the time I thought about it to the very end.”
Irovic also did his project at a school, though his was at Gardner and Rogers Elementary schools.
He replaced all ground cover and rock and added new plants, a tree and flowers to the Jacqueline Schimpf memorial garden located between the schools.
Jacqueline, a longtime Waterloo Junior High School math teacher, is Paul’s mother.
“I thought since Mrs. Schimpf was a beloved teacher it would be impactful for a lot of people if I did that project,” Irovic said.
The school paid for the work, though Irovic strove to help lower the cost as much as possible. The work took a total of 150 hours to complete.
“Being done is a huge relief just to know that everything got done in time and it all went smoothly,” Irovic said.
“This project couldn’t have happened without help from my parents, other scouts or anyone else from the troop,” he added.
All four scouts plan to go to college in the fall.
Brauer plans to study industrial management and applied engineering.
Berenz is going into a similar field, as he will attended Northern Michigan University to study construction management.
Roth will attend the University of Tulsa, where he will major in computer science and join the school’s Cyber Corps.
Irovic is going to Southeast Missouri State University.
Two of the teenagers also outlined plans to stay involved with scouting.
“I’m going to promote scouting to the best of my ability and show what a great program it is,” Braurer said, echoing Roth’s sentiment.