“I felt ecstatic to learn that I was the runner-up for the National Eagle Scout Award,” Ventura told The Zebra. “It said so much to me because it showed how I was considered as a remarkable Eagle Scout by so many.”
The 16-year-old was nominated for the award by the Department of Virginia. Ventura has been active in scouting since 2010 with Pack 1509, earning his Eagle Scout rank in January 2017.
Regarding the scholarship, Ventura said, “Upon receiving the $2,500, I was at first overwhelmed. This was the first time that I received a scholarship this large. Then, I realized what this said about myself; it shows how much I work and effort I put into my Scouting career. Not for money, but because I enjoy it.”
An Eagle Scout’s Journey
Ventura’s Eagle project was an ambitious undertaking at the Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge that had logistical difficulties. When he learned staff and visitors were getting lost on the six miles of trails at Wood Marsh, he began planning how he would succeed, then installed 10 new signs in six different locations.
Ventura spent more than 380 hours over a 10-month span on the project. He cut boards down to size, sanded, drilled, embossed letters, and painted posts. With those tasks completed, he had to overcome one last hurdle: navigating the refuge archeological process. During that process, Ventura learned about the refuge’s history.
The project was located in an area considered to be archaeologically significant. The Mason Neck peninsula had traditionally been used by the Native American Dogue tribe. Founding fathers George Washington and George Mason also frequented the territory.
An Eagle Scout’s Future
What’s next for Ventura? He wants to earn a career patch in Engineering.
To reach that goal, last summer, he attended the Society of American Military Engineers’ Engineering STEM Camp, hosted by the Marine Corps Engineering School in Camp LeJeune, NC. The camp provided the opportunity for high school students to obtain hands-on experience in engineering.
Regardless of the path he chooses, scouting will always play a role in Ventura’s life.
“I plan on bringing the scouting experience with me, and to live through the Scout Oath and Scout Law wherever I go,” he said.