Happy 50th birthday to NESA! Here are 5 things you need to know about the National Eagle Scout Association

In 1971, Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board made one of its most significant recommendations:

That approval be given to establish a National Eagle Scout Association …

That the primary purpose be to conserve and develop the manpower potential represented by approximately 30,000 young men who annually become Eagle Scouts plus the more than one-half million who previously earned this high rank.

It took more than a year for it all to come together, but so it was that on May 19, 1972, the National Eagle Scout Association was officially born. Since then, NESA has continued to serve Eagle Scouts and, through them, the entire Scouting movement.

To honor the anniversary, the NESA team is launching a “50 Days For 50 Years” celebration. For the next 50 days, follow NESA’s Facebook page and website for a Scout Law challenge, trivia and special features. And search social media for the hashtag #NESANext50 for more NESA-related content.

Read on for five things you need to know about NESA.

Other organizations filled a similar role to NESA before 1972

Just as the Order of the Arrow began as an unofficial BSA program, so did several unofficial Eagle Scout alumni groups. One of them, the Knights of Dunamis, was formed in 1925 as part of what was at the time called the San Francisco Council (now known as the Golden Gate Area Council).

The word “Dunamis” is derived from the Greek word meaning power or spirit.

The Knights of Dunamis lasted more than 45 years until it merged with the Boy Scouts of America. NESA was officially launched at the BSA’s National Annual Meeting on May 19, 1972.

(For more on NESA’s early days, check out this story from the May-June 2000 issue of Scouting magazine.)

NESA recognizes Eagle Scouts for exceptional service projects

All Eagle Scout projects are great. Some are simply exceptional. Those are the ones that can earn a Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award.

“Through this award, Melinda and I wanted to shine a spotlight on the incredible work Eagle Scout candidates are doing in service to others,” says Glenn Adams, Distinguished Eagle Scout and past president of the National Eagle Scout Association.

The selection process starts at the local council level. Contact your council for an application.

One of the 2021 Adams regional winners created a memorial for first responders. Another executed a project that helped prevent river disasters. And yet another executed a project that helped supply Honduran villages with clean water.

And the national winner? He built an exhibit to honor the heroes of D-Day.

NESA offers opportunities for Eagle Scouts to earn college scholarships

NESA began its college scholarship program more than a decade ago, and it continues with 65 scholarship opportunities for 2022-23.

Among them is the Lawrence S. and Mabel Cooke Scholarship program, which was established by Lawrence S. Cooke in memory of his late wife, Mabel Cooke. One national recipient will be selected for a $48,000 scholarship, and additional Eagle Scouts will each be awarded one $16,000 scholarship.

Other scholarships are available for a variety of amounts. Eagle Scouts may apply for NESA scholarships beginning in their senior year of high school through their junior year in college.

NESA helps Eagle Scouts explore the world

The NESA World Explorers Program pairs stellar Eagle Scouts with world-class researchers at sites around the globe.

Since the program’s launch in 2012, more than 50 Eagle Scouts have earned the distinction to be considered a NESA World Explorer. These young people have assisted researchers in destinations including the Galápagos Islands, Mammoth Cave, Amazon rainforest and South Africa.

Benjamin Alva (Eagle Class of 2016) went on an expedition at Yellowstone National Park as part of the 2018 World Explorers program. He was on a team that collected water samples from a geyser that could help NASA decide where to look for signs of life on Mars. Yellowstone’s active hot springs are similar to ancient hot springs on the red planet.

Today, Alva is working as a bioengineering research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.

Benjamin Alva at Yellowstone. Photo courtesy of the Alva family

If you’re an Eagle Scout, NESA wants you!

The fact of the matter is, when a Scout earns the rank of Eagle, their time in Scouting should not end. A NESA membership is the perfect way to stay involved.

“NESA has proven to be a place where Eagle Scouts can give back through their time, talent and treasure,” says Frank D. Tsuru, president of NESA and a Distinguished Eagle Scout. “Every Eagle Scout should be a member of NESA to enjoy a fraternal bond of men and women that have achieved Scouting’s highest rank.”

Click here to become a NESA member.

“I have watched NESA provide recognition to Scouters who not only provide assistance at the council level, but also at the highest levels of government and industry,” says Joe Weingarten, a Distinguished Eagle Scout and member of the NESA National Committee. “Fifty years ago, a handful of Scouters started NESA, and look what has happened. Just wait and see what the next 50 will bring.”

The first mention of NESA in Scouting magazine, from the September 1972 issue
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