By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE Andrew “Drew” Jackson, son of Craig and Tracy Jackson of Lester Prairie, recently achieved the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America an objective he’s been working toward for more than a decade.
“I started [Cub Scouts] when I was in first grade,” said Jackson, who is now a senior at Lester Prairie High School. “The biggest thing that kept me going was the end goal of getting to be an Eagle Scout.”
One requirement for obtaining Eagle Scout status is to complete a service leadership project. When looking for a project, Jackson heard about Packer Cemetery on the east side of Lester Prairie.
The small cemetery, located behind Jerry’s Transmission and across from Casey’s General store near County Road 9 and Central Avenue, was a good candidate for a project. Fencing was bent out of shape, trees and weeds were overgrown, and a headstone had tipped over.
“The cemetery is old, from the late 1800s or early 1900s,” Jackson said. “Actually, a Civil War veteran is buried there.”
Since the cemetery is considered part of Bergen Township, Jackson suggested the renovation project to the township board.
“When I brought the idea to them, they quickly jumped on board,” he said. “I got approval from the township back in March.”
Jackson began clearing brush that spring. The majority of the work took place in July, after he enlisted in help from fellow Boy Scouts, family, and friends. Jerry Pawelk, who owns Jerry’s Transmission, also stepped in to help. After a total of about 95 hours were put in, the cemetery was cleaner than it had been in many years.
“I finished in early October,” Jackson said.
Just over a month later, Nov. 13, Jackson completed his Eagle Scout board of review. The process involved a panel of adults asking several questions about the project, Boy Scouts, learning opportunities, future plans, and more. Jackson said it is “kind of like a test, but less formal.”
In addition to completing a service project, Eagle Scouts must earn 21 merit badges, in subjects ranging from personal management, to cooking, to environmental science. Jackson’s favorite merit badge was for music, which he earned about age 12 or 13. For that badge, Jackson had to study the history of music, perform a musical piece, and compose a song.
“I play piano, french horn, and trumpet and I’m teaching myself how to play percussion,” he said.
Jackson also likes sports, and participates in cross country, basketball, and track and field. After Jackson graduates from Lester Prairie High School in the spring, he plans to go to college for mathematics and economics. His dream job is to someday become a chief financial officer (CFO).
This summer will be Jackson’s last year on staff at a one-week Boy Scout leadership camp. He attended the camp for the first time when he was 14, and has returned every year since as a staff member. In Boy Scouts, as well as in other areas of his life, Jackson tries to “do everything I can to get ahead, and to grow as an individual.”