Mom’s influence inspires Sam Meinke’s project
By Kyle LoJacono
Land O’ Lakes 14-year-old and Boy Scout Troop 3 member Sam Meinke defied the odds and became one of only a few to become an Eagle Scout.
Sam, a Land O’ Lakes High freshman, earned the rank March 5. Less than 2 percent of all boys who participate in boy scouting accomplish all that is required to become on Eagle Scout, according to Boy Scouts of America statistics.
“It’s something that will be with me for the rest of my life,” Sam said.
Kids have until their 18th birthday to earn the rank and many wait until they are 17 to finish the last requirements.
“He got it very young,” said Dan Benoit, who was Sam’s scout master for much of his time in the troop. “To be part of such a small percentage of kids who get it, and to do it so young, shows the kind of person he is. He’s a very determined person.”
Sam’s final achievement was completing his Eagle Scout project, which was building a recycling station for First United Methodist Church of Land O’ Lakes, 6209 Land O’ Lakes Blvd. In total, Sam and his volunteers put in 85 hours to finish the job.
“I wanted to do this project because I want to increase people’s knowledge of recycling,” Sam said. “My mom has always been big into recycling and let me know it’s important.”
Troop 3 meets at First United, which is also the church the Meinkes attend.
Sam’s journey toward Eagle started in third grade while attending Pine View Elementary. He joined the Cub Scouts, the youth branch of boy scouting. Sam said his father, Jeff, brought him to a meeting one day and he has been hooked ever since.
“He has always been a solid member of the troop,” Benoit said. “He started young and green like most of the boys, but then he flourished and fast became one of our leaders. He was just our senior patrol leader, which is the scout who leads the troop.”
Sam said scouting has helped him work with very different people and also with his organizational skills. His mother, Lise, has seen even greater growth in her son.
“It has built discipline in him,” Lise said. “In middle school at Pine View, he was one of just a couple kids who had straight As all the way through all three years. He’s in the IB program at Land O’ Lakes. I’ve always believed the discipline he built in scouting was a big reason for that.
“It’s helped build a foundation as a confident person as well,” Lise continued. “He’s had to give public presentations and take on leadership.”
Sam has earned 30 merit badges in Boy Scouts, but one stands out — backpacking.
As part of the backpacking badge, Sam and other members of the troop hiked on the Appalachian Trail where it begins in Georgia.
“I hadn’t even seen a mountain before that trip,” Sam said. “I’ll always remember it.”
For more information on scouting, visit www.boyscouting.com.