List of notable Scouting Alumni
What you will find here is not a definitive list of the “top” or the “most important” Scouting alumni. It is a simple, informal way to share the stories of some of Scouting’s most influential people. Inspiration comes in many forms, so we’ve cultivated a few stories we hope can serve as inspiration for current and future Scouts.
Know a Scouter who should be included? Take a look at the stories here for examples, then send us your suggestion. Just click the button below.
Agre, Peter Courtland
It’s tempting to draw a line between Dr. Peter Agre’s Chemistry merit badge—the first merit badge he earned—and his Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Unfortunately, that line would have to run through the D he was earning in high school chemistry before he dropped the course.
In any event, Scouting taught Agre far more important lessons than chemistry—lessons about values, leadership, and self-reliance. It also instilled in him a deep love for adventure in the wilderness that he shared with his son’s Boy Scout troop. As an assistant Scoutmaster, Agre also led numerous trips to one of the BSA’s high-adventure bases.
When he wasn’t leading Scout trips, Agre was leading research teams at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he served as a professor in the departments of Biological Chemistry and Medicine. It was there that he and another researcher discovered a protein that regulates how water moves in and out of cells. That discovery earned him and his colleague the 2003 Nobel Prize.
Agre likes to congratulate new Eagle Scouts on their accomplishment, and he often tells them, “The Nobel was cool, but being an Eagle Scout was cool. That was just as cool.”
Armstrong, Neil Alden
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong walked into the pages of history by stepping onto the moon’s surface. And then he did something almost as remarkable: He retired to become a college professor and private citizen, declining offers to cash in on his celebrity. As one Ohio neighbor told The Cincinnati Enquirer in 2009, “He just wanted to be a citizen in the community and take his place.”
Armstrong grew up in rural Ohio, moving 16 times for his father’s job. In 1947, he enrolled in Purdue University’s aerospace engineering program but soon joined the U.S. Navy. A naval aviator at age 19, Armstrong flew 78 missions over Korea. After his service, he completed his degree at Purdue and then became a civilian test pilot with NASA, logging 900 hours in a variety of aircraft.
In 1962, Armstrong joined NASA’s astronaut corps. He served as the pilot on the Gemini 8 mission and then became commander of the historic Apollo 11 mission.
Armstrong received countless honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. His description of himself was more modest: “I am, and ever will be, a whitesocks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer.”
Banks, William Augustus Banks III.
Some athletes approach sports with deadly seriousness, but not Willie Banks. One of America’s greatest triple jumpers, Banks fired up spectators before competitions and mingled with them afterwards. During some jumps, the flamboyant athlete’s sheer joy erupted into laughter.
Some of that joy stemmed from Banks’ triple-jump success. He set his first American record in 1981 at 56 feet, 7¾ inches and went on to beat that record six times, improving by more than 2 feet. In 1985, he set a world record of 58 feet, 11½ inches.
During his career, Banks represented the United States in 18 international competitions, including world championships in 1983 and 1987 and the Olympics in 1984 and 1988. He won a silver medal in 1983 and was named the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Athlete of the Year in 1985. He joined the USA Track & Field
Hall of Fame in 1999.
“I have been fortunate enough to receive many awards and accolades,” Banks says. “In retrospect, I believe none of my achievements could have been accomplished without the lessons of desire, determination, and dedication learned from Scouting. My struggle to become an Eagle Scout provided me the necessary resources to be a success in sports, academics, and business.”
Bechtel, Stephen David Jr.
As a child, Stephen Bechtel Jr. took frequent trips to the Hoover Dam, a massive structure that his family’s business—the Bechtel Corporation—was building in the Nevada desert. As an adult, he became president of the company, growing it into one of this country’s leading engineering and construction firms. When he retired as CEO in 1990, the company had 32,500 employees working on 1,700 projects in 77 countries.
Among his many accomplishments, Bechtel built the Channel Tunnel, the largest U.S. nuclear power plant, and a 360-square-mile industrial city in Saudi Arabia. In Scouting circles, however, he is known for another project, The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia, which serves as a high adventure base and the permanent site of the national Scout jamboree. In 2009, Bechtel’s family foundation donated $50 million to help purchase the 10,600-acre property.
Bechtel’s civic involvement has ranged far beyond Scouting. He served on presidential committees and national commissions for three presidents—Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford—and he led the National Academy of Engineering as its first chairman from 1982 to 1986. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush awarded him the National Medal of Technology, America’s highest honor for technical achievement.
Berger, Lee Rogers
As a paleoanthropologist, Dr. Lee Berger has made groundbreaking discoveries in South Africa, where he has lived since 1989. In 1991, he and his team discovered early hominid remains at a site called Gladysvale, the first such discovery in southern Africa since 1948.
Berger received the first National Geographic Society Prize for Research and Exploration in 1997 and the first Friedel Sellschop Award for Young Researchers two years later. He frequently appears on the National Geographic Channel, and his research has twice been cited by Discover magazine for being among the top 100 science stories of the year. His discovery of Homo naledi landed him on the cover of National Geographic in 2015.
Berger grew up in Georgia, where he became an Eagle Scout. He graduated from Georgia Southern University and attended Harvard University before moving to South Africa to pursue doctoral studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. He has been active with numerous organizations, including the Palaeoanthropological Scientific Trust, the Jane Goodall Trust South Africa, and the Royal Society of South Africa.
In addition to receiving the Eagle Scout Award, Berger has received the BSA’s Honor Medal. While working as a news photographer in Savannah, Georgia, in 1987, he tossed aside his camera and jumped into a river to save a drowning woman.
Breyer, Stephen Gerald
Stephen Breyer was named to the United States Supreme Court by then-President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and is usually considered part of the court’s liberal wing. But Breyer is more interested in serving the people than any political party. As he wrote in his book Active Liberty, the U.S. Constitution outlines a form of government that lets citizens “make up their own minds about how they want to live together in their communities.”
Breyer made up his own mind about community in San Francisco’s Troop 14. As a Scout, simple acts like cleaning up campsites or doing service projects became life lessons for Breyer and his brother Charles, himself an Eagle Scout and a federal judge.
After earning degrees from Stanford and Oxford universities, Breyer entered Harvard Law School, where he edited the prestigious Harvard Law Review. He later taught at Harvard for many years.
Breyer’s government service began in 1964, when he clerked for Associate Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg. After stints at the Justice Department and as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Breyer was named to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in 1980. He served as chief judge of that court from 1990 until his elevation to the Supreme Court in 1994.
Eldred, Arthur Rose
In August 1912, Arthur Eldred went before the most intimidating Eagle Scout board of review in history, a board that included Chief Scout Executive James E. West, American Scouting founders Ernest Thompson Seton and Daniel Carter Beard, and Wilbert E. Longfellow, who had written material on first aid and lifesaving for the BSA’s first Scout handbook. Intimidation notwithstanding, Eldred passed his board of review and soon became the first Eagle Scout in history.
And that was just one of the highlights of his 16th year. In January, he and his troop, Troop 1 from Rockville Centre, New York, had greeted Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell’s ship when it arrived in New York. That summer, he had rescued two fellow Scouts from drowning, earning himself one of the BSA’s first Honor Medals.
Eldred went on to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War I. After the war, he worked as an agricultural agent and later as a transportation manager. He served as troop committee chairman for the troop where his son Bill became an Eagle Scout and was active on two school boards and the Camden County Council.
Although Eldred died in 1951, his legacy lives on. Four generations of his family have become Eagle Scouts.
A native of Salt Lake City, Alan entered Scouting at age 11 and shortly after was selected to be on the cover of both Boys’ Life Magazine (January 1952 issue) and Skiing merit badge booklet. He received Scouting’s highest rank, that of Eagle, at age thirteen.
Alan Engen was named one of the “Legends of Utah skiing” in 1988. He was also inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame in 1991; the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame in 2004; and the University of Utah Crimson Club Athletes Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2007, Alan was given Utah “Best of State” honors as a professional athlete in sports and recreation and in 2009 he was inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame. His competitive ski career is extensive at the national and international level. He competed in all skiing disciplines (Alpine and Nordic), winning numerous championships in Junior, Senior, and Masters competition. He was an All-American skier in college for the University of Utah and was a member of the United States CISM Ski Team during the middle 1960’s. He was also a six time winner of the United States Ski Association-Intermountain Masters series title in the 1980’s.
Alan is a recognized Utah ski historian and the author of the award winning book, For the Love of Skiing – A Visual History (1998) and co-author of the book FIRST TRACKS – A Century of Skiing in Utah (2001). He is Chairman Emeritus of the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation; Chairman Emeritus of the Alta Historical Society; a former member of the board of directors for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum; and a charter advisory member of the University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library, Utah Ski Archives.
Ferlinghetti received his Eagle in the 1930’s and is an American poet, painter, liberal activists, author and publisher. He was born in Yonkers New York in 1919.
Ferlinghetti’s childhood was far from ideal. His father died before Lawrence was born. His mother was committed to an insane asylum when he was a baby. So, he was raised by his Aunt.To add to the challenge of growing up without parents, Lawrence also lived in an orphanage for a short time while his aunt looked for work.
He overcame these adversities and stayed in Scouting. He received his Eagle in the 1930’s and went on to the University of North Carolina. After college, he joined the Navy, served during World War II and completed his master’s degree on the GI bill.
He moved to San Francisco in 1953 and taught French. But he was a painter, a poet, and a liberal activist. So he followed his passion and opened a book store in San Francisco called City Lights Bookstore. Ferlinghetti’s most famous book was “A Coney Island of the Mind.” But he published dozens more. And he also got into the publishing business to help other struggling poets and writers.
Ford, Gerald Rudolph Jr.
The first Eagle Scout to serve as president of the United States, Gerald R. Ford restored dignity to an office mired in scandal.
Born in 1913, Ford joined a Grand Rapids, Michigan, Boy Scout troop in 1924 and became an Eagle Scout three years later. But Scouting wasn’t the only arena in which Ford excelled. An accomplished athlete, he played football at the University of Michigan and considered a professional football career. Instead, he chose law school, graduating from Yale in 1941.
The start of World War II interrupted Ford’s brief legal career. He quickly joined the Navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant commander before leaving the service in 1946.
Two years later, Ford was elected to Congress, where he would represent Michigan’s Fifth Congressional District for the next 25 years. When Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace in 1973, Richard Nixon appointed Ford to the post. Ten months later, Nixon himself resigned, making Ford president.
During his long life—he died at age 93—Ford remained connected to Scouting, even donning a Scout uniform for a 1978 BSA ad campaign. In 1997, the Western Michigan Shores Council was renamed the Gerald R. Ford Council in his honor.
Fossett, James Stephen
Steve Fossett rose to international fame in 2002, when, on his sixth try, he became the first person to circle the globe on a solo balloon flight. But that was just one of 115 records he set in both aviation and sailing.
Fossett also competed in an array of other adventure sports. He completed the Boston Marathon, the Ironman Triathlon, and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. He swam the English Channel at age 41, and he scaled the highest peaks on six of the seven continents. A commodities broker, Fossett started his own trading firms, Marathon Securities and Lakota Trading, in the early 1980s. It was at those firms that he amassed the fortune that helped fund his many adventures.
As a Scout in Garden Grove, California, Fossett caught the adventure bug, climbing his first mountain at age 12. He became an Eagle Scout in 1957 at age 13 and later worked as a ranger at the Philmont Scout Ranch.
A longtime supporter of Scouting, Fossett became president of the National Eagle Scout Association in 2007. He was still serving as NESA president that September when he tragically died in a single-engine plane crash along the Nevada-California border.
In 1963 Former FBI director Louis Freeh received his Eagle Scout at 13 years old. He was born in New Jersey. He was honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1995.
Freeh’s resume includes FBI agent, Deputy US Attorney, Army reservist, and US District Court judge.
But his years as the FBI director from 1993-2001 were marked with plenty of high profile cases. He took over just after the Branch Dravidian compound fire in Waco, Texas and dealt with allegations of cover-ups. He handled an 81 day standoff with the Montana Freeman, which ended peacefully.
He was the head of the agency when the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, was apprehended in Montana in 1996. He also orchestrated the capture and prosecution of Timothy McVeigh the OKC bomber in 1995-1996.
Louis Freeh resigned in 2001 and became the principal lawyer for a major US bank, published a book, and founded his own law firm, The Freeh Group International.
At the Whistler Sliding Centre on Feb. 27, 2010, Steven Holcomb slid into the history books as the driver of USA 1, America’s first four-man bobsled team to win Olympic gold since 1948. The team’s performance, which included setting a course record on one run, capped a remarkable season that also saw it win America’s first world championship since 1959 and its first World Cup title since 1992. (In 2014, Holcomb won bronze medals in both two-man and four-man bobsled.)
What made the 2010 season even more remarkable is how Holcomb got there. For most of his career, Holcomb had suffered from keratoconus, a degenerative eye condition that makes the corneas bulge and seriously affects a person’s vision.
By the time he had surgery in 2008, he was relying more on instinct than vision to navigate bobsled runs. Sports Illustrated called him “America’s sledi knight,” recalling the scene from Star Wars where Luke Skywalker learns to use his lightsaber while wearing an opaque visor.
Holcomb credits Scouting with broadening his horizons. “Earning all the merit badges really opens your eyes to more than just one thing in life. There’s so much to learn, so much you have to do,” he says.
Locke, Gary Faye
Gary Locke’s grandfather, an immigrant from China, worked as a servant in exchange for English lessons. Locke’s father (who was also born in China) worked 14-hour days as a Seattle grocery store owner to provide for his family. In 2011, Locke himself returned to his ancestral home to begin a three-year stint as U.S. ambassador.
Locke grew up in south Seattle’s tight-knit Chinese community. He later joined Boy Scout Troop 254, an all-Chinese troop whose leaders celebrated their Scouts’ heritage while preparing them for life in the larger society.
Those leaders did their job well. After earning degrees at Yale University and the Boston University School of Law, Locke returned home, where he served 10 years as a state representative, three years as county executive, and eight years as governor. As governor, he led 10 international trade missions and helped grow the state’s exports to China to more than $5 billion per year.
After a stint at the international law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, Locke served as commerce secretary and ambassador to China in the Obama administration. In the Chief Seattle Council, Locke lent influence to the council’s Scoutreach program, which serves young people in inner-city neighborhoods like the one where he got his start.
Scott Oki is the Founder and Chairman of Oki Developments, Inc. and is a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, philanthropist, author and community activist.
Prior to founding Oki Developments, Inc., Oki retired in 1992 after 10 years with Microsoft Corporation where he served in a variety of executive positions. Oki founded the International Division and later served as Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Service.
Oki is a Distinguished Eagle Scout and is an alumnus of Troop and Post 252 in Seattle, WA. Oki serves on many advisory boards and boards of directors for both for-profit and not-for-profit companies. He has founded or co-founded twenty non-profit organizations.
In addition to his philanthropic activities through The Oki Foundation, he has taken leadership roles in many other organizations. He has served as Co-Chair of the United Way of King County Campaign Board and Co-Chair of the Million Dollar Roundtable, Founder/Chairman of the Japanese American Chamber of Commerce, Founder/past-Chairman of the Chief Seattle Council Boy Scout Scoutreach Foundation, Founder/Chairman of the Outrageous Learning Foundation, Founder/Past Chairman of Densho, and Founder/Chairman of TheParentsUnion.org. He is a Co-Founder of SeeYourImpact.org, Sounders for Kids, Seattle Parks Foundation, Executive Development Institute, America’s Foundation for Chess, First Tee of Greater Seattle, Microsoft Alumni Foundation, Social Venture Partners, and Seattle Police Foundation. He is a past-President of the University of Washington Board of Regents and a past-Chair of the Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Oki has served on the national boards for United Way of America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Japanese American National Museum, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, National Science Center, Microsoft Alumni Foundation, and America’s Foundation for Chess.
Perot, Henry RossFrom a childhood of poverty during the depression to a multi-billionaire, Distinguished Eagle Scout H. Ross Perot was a self-made Texas billionaire. He also launched and ran two unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. Presidency. During his childhood, he delivered newspapers from the back of his pony, Miss Bee. Perot graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. After his military service, he became one of the top salesmen at IBM. SPerot built and grew the giant computer services company Electronic Data Services (EDS) and then sold it to Hewlett-Packard $2.5 billion. His next company, Perot Systems Corporation, was also successfully established and sold to Dell Computers for $3.9 billion. Many of his books have been made into movies such as Half Moon Street in 1986 and The Mosquito Coast in 1986.
Rowe, Michael Gregory
Although he’s a college graduate and former opera singer, Mike Rowe has built his reputation by promoting the skilled trades. As host and executive producer of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel, Rowe tried out more than 200 jobs, from driving a sewage truck to demolishing houses in post-Katrina New Orleans. As CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, he is trying to change how America views hard work.
Rowe grew up in Baltimore and became an Eagle Scout in 1979. His Eagle Scout leadership service project, which involved reading to students at the Maryland School for the Blind, helped spark his interest in being a narrator.
Rowe got his start in television as an onscreen pitchman for QVC. He later hosted shows on PBS, TBS, and The History Channel, as well as local stations WJZ in Baltimore and KPIX in San Francisco. A segment he created for KPIX’s “Evening Magazine” eventually grew into “Dirty Jobs.”
With the support of industrial supply giant W.W. Grainger, Rowe launched mikeroweWORKS.com – now profoundlydisconnected.com – on Labor Day 2008. The site focuses on the decline in skilled trades and the crumbling of America’s infrastructure. Features include discussion forums; information about specific trades; and links to schools, jobs, and apprenticeship programs.
A native of San Antonio, Percy Sutton moved to New York City at age 12 in part to escape endemic racism, and he was soon volunteering for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, reportedly earning a beating for his trouble.
During World War II, Sutton served as an intelligence officer with the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black fighter group that flew escort for American bombers. He later completed law school and represented hundreds of civil rights workers, as well as such controversial figures as Malcolm X. He also courted controversy himself, returning to his native South as a Freedom Rider in the mid-1960s.
Sutton argued that “you ought always to keep the lines of communication open with those with whom you disagree.”
Among Harlem’s most prominent politicians, Sutton paved the way for African Americans to run successfully for mayor and governor. In 1971, he cofounded the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, which operated New York City’s first African American radio station.
A 1936 Eagle Scout, Sutton credited Scouting with much of his success. “It gave me access; it helped me dream,” he said.
The acknowledged dean of Western writers, Wallace Stegner influenced generations of authors and helped launch the modern environmental movement. He also demonstrated, in the words of one colleague, “what it means to be a responsible, loving, thoughtful, constituent of the human race.”
Born in Iowa, Stegner grew up in Montana, Utah, and Saskatchewan, Canada. He became an Eagle Scout in Utah, and as a Scout he explored such natural wonders as the Grand Canyon and what is now Zion National Park.
Stegner taught at the University of Wisconsin and Harvard University before moving to Stanford University. There he established a creative writing program in which students included Edward Abbey, Ernest Gaines, and Larry McMurtry. He also served on the board of the Sierra Club and was a special assistant to Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall during the 1960s.
Stegner earned many awards for his writing, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972 (for Angle of
Repose) and the National Book Award in 1977 (for The Spectator Bird). However, his nonfiction work may
have had the greater impact on society. Most notably, his “Wilderness Letter” was used in the successful drive to create the National Wildlife Preservation System in 1964.
For most Scouts, the Wilderness Survival merit badge offers the chance to learn valuable skills in an outdoor setting. For Creek Stewart, it was the first step toward a career as a survival instructor, author, and host of The Weather Channel’s hit show Fat Guys in the Woods, which aired in 2014 and 2015. It’s no wonder he still carries the badge in his wallet.
On each episode of his show, Stewart took several stuck-in-a-rut men into the wilderness. Their objective was to survive the experience but more importantly to grow as individuals and overcome the challenges they face when they’re not in the woods.
Stewart launched his survival business while attending Butler University in Indianapolis. He began by writing a 90-page survival handbook that, in true Boy Scout fashion, he advertised in the pages of Boys’ Life magazine.
Today, Stewart runs Willow Haven Outdoor Survival School in Indiana and frequently appears as a survival expert
on local and national television shows, often teaching novel survival uses for everyday items like soda cans and cell phones. He has also written several survival books, including Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit and The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide.
Paul Theroux is a novelist who received his Eagle Scout in the 1950’s.
Theroux was born in 1941 in Medford, Massachusetts. After college, he joined the Peace Corp. and took off for Malawi. But he was actually thrown out of the Peace Corp for helping an unpopular politician escape to Uganda.
So, he moved to Uganda and then to Singapore before ending up in England. All along the way he taught at universities.
His first major success as a writer was “The Great Railway Bazaar.” It was based on his travels from Great Britain to Japan and back again.
Many of his books have been made into movies such as Half Moon Street in 1986 and The Mosquito Coast in 1986.
Tillerson, Rex Wayne
He served as the 69th U.S. Secretary of State from February 2017 to March 2018. Previously, he spent his entire career with the Exxon Mobil Company culminating with 11 years as Chairman and CEO of one of the top 10 companies in the World. This put him in charge of a company with some 80,000 employees and annual revenues of over $200 billion.
Born in 1952, in Wichita Falls, Texas, Tillerson is the son of a Boy Scout executive. Growing up in Texas and Oklahoma, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 1965, at the age of thirteen. He went on to graduate from Huntsville High in Texas and the University of Texas at Austin (1975). In Austin, he studied civil engineering and played percussion in the Texas Longhorn marching band. Upon graduation, he was employed by the Exxon Corporation as a production engineer.
Like his father, Tillerson stayed connected to Scouting as an adult. He has been recognized as a Distinguished Eagle Scout, an honor granted to less than 1/10 of one percent of Eagle Scouts He also served on the local and national council boards and as national president of the Boy Scouts of America from 2010 to 2012.
Storm chaser Reed Timmer has captured more than 500 tornadoes on video—some from the inside. He’s no fool, however, nor is he some suicidal thrill-seeker. Instead, he chases storms to learn more about them and better protect people from their awesome power.
Timmer travels with the best protection this side of the U.S. Army: a series of three custom vehicles he calls the Dominators. The latest, Dominator 3, began life as a Ford F-350 crew-cab pickup but features a 16-gauge body strengthened with a polyethylene Kevlar composite, thick Lexan windows, and gullwing doors to repel hail. When storms approach, special hydraulic systems lower the vehicle to the ground to prevent wind from getting underneath and drive spikes 8 inches into the ground to secure it.
In other words, the vehicle is a 9,500-pound, 385-horsepower embodiment of the Scout motto, “Be prepared.”
A trained meteorologist and passionate advocate of severe-weather preparedness, Timmer hosted the on-demand series Storm Chasers and has appeared on such programs as The Weather Channel’s Tornado Chasers, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and The Tonight Show. In 2015, he completed his Ph.D. in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma while working as a storm chaser for AccuWeather and Oklahoma City’s NBC affiliate, KFOR.
Tut, Buey Ray
Buey Ray Tut left what is now South Sudan at age 8, part of a wave of refugees escaping civil unrest. He never forgot his homeland, however, or the difficult chores he had as a child, like fetching water from a river 3 or 4 miles from his village.
In 2011, the same year he became a U.S. citizen, the Omaha resident cofounded the nonprofit organization Aqua-Africa with two other South Sudanese expatriates. Within three years, Aqua-Africa had drilled 13 wells, serving a total of 6,500 people. And that’s just the beginning. Aqua-Africa’s five-year goal is to provide 200,000 people with clean water.
But Aqua-Africa does more than drill wells. It also teaches resource management and micro-democracy by creating a water committee, a local board that manages each new well, decides what to charge for the water, and ensures that everyone has equal access to it. To form a water committee, Aqua-Africa teaches villagers how democracy works, then runs elections—complete with secret ballots, term limits, and official announcements of the results.
Don’t be surprised if that sounds familiar. “We’re basically using the patrol method,” Tut says. “My Scouting experience is intertwined with what I do now. Everything I’ve done there, I’ve applied now in Aqua-Africa.”
In 1945, shortly after leaving the U.S. Army, 26-year-old Sam Walton took over a Ben Franklin store in Newport, Arkansas. By 1962, he and his brother Bud owned a chain of 16 variety stores in three states and had pioneered techniques in logistics, volume purchasing, and merchandising. That year, the brothers opened their first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Arkansas, launching an empire that would eventually become the world’s largest retailer and private employer.
Walton received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 in recognition of his pioneering work in retailing. In 1998, Time magazine named him to its list of the 20th century’s 100 most influential people.
But Walton’s first accolades came much earlier in life. In 1932, he saved a boy named Donald Peterson from drowning in Missouri’s Salt River, and two years later he became his home state’s youngest Eagle Scout.
Today, Walton’s influence lives on through the Walton Family Foundation, which donated more than $325 million to charity in 2013. And thousands of students on the University of Arkansas campus study at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, ranked among the nation’s top 25 undergraduate and top 50 graduate
business schools by the Wall Street Journal.