Northport resident Ryan Starzee achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank awarded by the Boy Scouts of America. Starzee, 17, is a member of Troop 5 in East Northport and a student at Northport High School.
To become an Eagle Scout, a Scout must meet several requirements, including developing, organizing, directing and completing an approved project to benefit a nonprofit organization.
For his Eagle project, Starzee built training tools for The Guide Dog Foundation, a Smithtown organization that provides trained guide dogs to blind and visually impaired individuals from around the country. With assistance from about a dozen boys from Troop 5, Starzee built four “Puppy Up-Curbs” and four “Puppy Adventure Boxes,” which were requested by the organization. The Puppy Up-Curbs are durable wooden curbs that are used to train the dogs. The Puppy Adventure Boxes are similar to baby gyms: They are constructed with PVC pipes, and they feature balls, cups, bells and other items hanging down from plastic cords for puppies to play with and learn about their environment.
For many Scouts, the biggest hurdle to becoming an Eagle Scout is finding a suitable Eagle project. While many nonprofit organizations could benefit from Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts doing a project for them, some are so busy trying to get all of their work done with limited staff that they do not have a system in place to meet with Scouts, brainstorm ideas and fill out the necessary paperwork.
The Guide Dog Foundation, however, provided Starzee with a list of projects it needed done. At their initial meeting at the foundation’s offices, Starzee and a representative from the organization decided together which items he would build. He then had to get the project approved by the Boy Scouts.
“I was very excited to do a project for the Guide Dog Foundation,” Starzee said. “For one thing, I love dogs. And this is a great organization that provides an important service. And they were very nice and helpful to me.”
To raise funds for the materials for his project, Starzee held a car wash at Pep Boys Auto Parts & Service in Commack.
“Pep Boys has been very generous, allowing other boys in my troop and I to hold our Eagle car washes in their parking lot,” Starzee said. “I held my car wash last September and I was very lucky with the weather. A lot of boys from the troop came out to help, the drivers were very generous and we raised $345.”
In addition to completing his project, Starzee had to fulfill other requirements to make Eagle, including earning a minimum of 21 Merit Badges, which recognize ability in activities like swimming, orienteering, first aid, camping and wood carving. Starzee earned 25 Merit Badges in total.
“It was a great feeling of accomplishment to finally become Eagle,” Starzee said. “I worked very hard, but I had a lot of help, from my family, from kids in my troop, from my Eagle coach, David Hunt, who spent a lot of time meeting with me, and from the adult leaders in my troop, who have volunteered their time for many years to help me get to this point.”