A Burlington Township teen earned the Boy Scouts of America organization’s most notable honor of Eagle Scout this year.
Dante Pagano, 18, of Burlington Township achieved his Eagle Scout status this year. As a member of Burlington’s Troop 764, Pagano earned 32 merit badges and was awarded Bronze and Gold Palm for 11 additional badges. Not only did Pagano achieve his Eagle Scout rank, he will also be honored at the 50th Eagle Scout in the Burlington troop to reach this plateau.
As a scout since first grade, Pagano said he has long enjoyed his time and experiences in the scouts such as camping trips, snow tubing in the winter or tubing on the Delaware River in the summer.
As the Burlington teen worked toward achieving his Eagle Scout rank, he explained that some of his initial ideas for a project posed obstacles and could not get approval. Pagano said that after he reached out to the Silver Lake Nature Center in Bristol, Pa., a new idea for an Eagle Scout project came to mind.
“The [staff said] the turtles there were running away, so they wanted something to hold them in their place,” Pagano said. “I like animals and I like to do anything to help animals, so that’s what caught my eye about this project.”
In an effort to help the nature center resolve this matter, Pagano initiated a project to build a turtle habitat enclosure on the site of the facility. He explained that various types of turtle species on the site include box turtles and red-eared terrapins.
Once the project was approved, Pagano said he got in touch with various local businesses and groups for donated materials such as lumber from Universal Supply Company and Lowe’s for other items to construct the enclosure.
The Burlington scout said some of the necessary materials to build the enclosure included lumber, screws/hardware, nails, and metal poles to anchor the boards into the ground.
“The turtles already had habitat [at the nature center] with a pond, so I basically built a box around the pond,” Pagano said.
On Aug. 24, Pagano said that he worked to complete his project along with the help of 10 fellow scouts and 15 adults. The scout said the project was completed in approximately four hours.
Although Pagano explained that the project was “relatively quick” to construct, he did encounter some obstacles along the way. He explained that he had to visit the nature center site multiple times to take measurements in order to confirm how much lumber he would need as well as one immovable object that got in his way.
“When we finally got there, I apparently had missed that there was a tree that the [nature center staff] did not want me to move, so I had to shorten one of the measurements to save the tree,” he said.
Following the completion of his project, Pagano said he was happy to notice that the nature center staff was appreciative of his work for their facility.
“The nature center volunteers were very appreciative, and it made me feel good inside that I helped the community,” he said.
Now that his project is complete and has met the necessary requirements to achieve his Eagle Scout rank, Pagano reflected on his time in the scouts as well as his journey toward his accomplishment. He explained that reaching the rank of Eagle is a rare opportunity.
“I’m proud of myself that I actually made it to Eagle Scout because there are very few people that actually become an Eagle Scout,” he said. “I think about 5% of all boy scouts become Eagle Scouts, so that’s very cool and interesting that I’m one of hat 5% now.”
Along with the hard work Pagano put into becoming an Eagle Scout, he said that the positive support he received from friends and family along the way was not lost on him as well.
“Because I was taking a bit longer to do certain things, everyone was helping to push me towards doing the things I needed to get done,” Pagano said. “When I finally [achieved Eagle Scout status], they were all very happy.”
If achieving his Eagle Scout rank wasn’t enough of a big accomplishment, Pagano said it was also brought to his attention that he was to be recognized this year as the troop’s 50th Eagle Scout honoree. The teen noted that along with his recent accomplishment, to be the 50th Eagle Scout for his troop made the feat even more incredible.
“It’s very cool because 50, especially with the 5% percent [statistic],” he said. “Our troop isn’t very old, so getting to 50 in [a short] amount of time like that is amazing.”
Although Pagano said he was appreciative and had various fond memories in his journey to become an Eagle Scout, one companion of his from the beginning of his troop experience made it special, too.
Pagano explained that his close friend and troop member, Andy Carron, shared various moments together during their experiences as scouts, and shared plenty of laughs and jokes along the way.
“My den leader, Andy Carron, is now the scout master of the troop, so I started it with him and ended it with him.”