For more than 100 years the Boy Scouts of America have been honoring scouts who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout, but the BSA describe it as not just an award — it’s a state of being. Recently recognized for his dedication and 120-plus hours of work, Nate Kellerman, 17, of O’Fallon, is one of the newest Eagle Scouts in the metro-east.
“Becoming an Eagle Scout is really rewarding to me because it showed me how to be a leader and showed me where I wanted to be in my life,” Nate said.
Nate began his trek through the scouting ranks when he was 6-years-old in Cub Scouts Pack 35.
“I’ve learned so much over the years,” Nate said.
But his learning isn’t over, he said.
“My Scoutmaster Rich Preston always tells us, ‘don’t be a life for life,’” Nate said, which refers to the rank, called Life, before Eagle Scout.
There are lots of requirements needed to climb past Life rank, Nate said, like 21 out of 100 badge options must be earned in addition to the 13 Eagle badges. Moreover, there are project qualifications, approvals, hours worked, and the list continues.
“A lot of Scouts will get to the Life rank but not go further because it may seem too difficult, but what they forget is there are a lot of people who will help you and its a milestone, yes, but it also helps provide relationship building for the rest of your life and leadership skills too,” Nate said.
For Nate’s Eagle project, he chose giving back to the O’Fallon baseball organizations and the community alike.
“Ever since I was really little, there’s been two consistent things — Scouts and baseball, so combining both of those into one project was pretty rewarding to me,” Nate said, who is on the O’Fallon Township High School varsity baseball team.
“I like helping the community as well. Our cages were really torn up and beaten down,” Nate said.
The cage is “open to anyone who needs or wants to use it,” he said.
“O’Fallon Community Park has provided me with a strong foundation from T-ball and home run derbys on the softball field to actual baseball games on Blazier Field where the high school plays and we use batting cages everyday for baseball so being able to build one for little kids that are coming up becoming part of the program of O’Fallon baseball — it’s important to me,” Nate said.
BSA Troop 46 member Nate planned, raised money, organized and built a batting cage at the O’Fallon Community Park, 401 E. Fifth St., specifically it sits next door to the Katy Cavins Community Center parking lot, 308 E. Fifth St.
Jamie Frank, O’Fallon Parks and Recreation department, assisted Nate with his project, both in guidance, as well as, purchasing the batting cage dissembled for about $5,000.
“He and the parks were very helpful. It made the process smoother and it could’ve been a lot more tedious,” Nate said.
Nate organized an event at McAlister’s Deli in Shiloh that raised about 10 percent in donations and proceeds from business for the evening in late February toward the total project cost.
While Nate put in hours of research, thought and sweat into the project, he said he had some help with building it too.
“It was a combined effort from Boy Scouts to the O’Fallon baseball team. I invited a lot of the baseball guys because it was a bigger project to do — a lot of heavy lifting to do,” Nate said.
Planning began in December 2016, and was completed by early April 2017 while Nate was still 16-years-old.
“Mr. Lee Erickson, is one of the first leaders I ever had as a cub scout, so having him as my Eagle Scout project mentor is definitely very meaningful to me,” Nate said.
Dale and Denise Kellerman said they couldn’t be more proud of their son’s recent milestone.
“I remember (Nate) saying, working on the project, that it was a challenge to tell people his own age what to do, you know, in learning to lead that it’s not easy to tell people what to do,” Denise, also Troop 46 committee secretary, said.
Initiative and drive is not something the couple said Nate is lacking, citing an example of when Nate earned and saved his own money mowing lawns since he was 13-years-old, and then bought his own truck solo so his lawn mowing business could really take off last year.
“It’s helped him with time management between the full load in the high school maintaining an ‘A’ average to having his lawn mowing business to scouts,” Dale said.
Denise said: “Jason Portz, OTHS baseball coach, has provided a great environment for Nathan to develop as a baseball player and an individual. The baseball team takes part in several camps in the community to encourage young interest in baseball. Nathan looks forward to working with the kids and helping them develop like the older guys did for him.”
Nate said that being an Eagle Scout “opens many doors” for him regarding scholarship and college options.
“It’s been a long time coming — it’s pretty cool. I’m getting ready to go to college in a year so I think it’s going to be a big part of the leadership and the skills I’m going to need in life,” Nate said.
While Nate is still undecided on where to attend college for mechanical engineering and aerospace, he said he likes University of Missouri, Southern Illinois of Edwardsville, University of Illinois and University of Arkansas so far.
The Kellerman’s are members of St. Nicholas Catholic Church in O’Fallon, which is where Nate officially received his Eagle medal on Sunday, Oct. 8.
BSA Troop 46 meet from 7-8 p.m. Mondays at O’Fallon First United Methodist Church and is sponsored by the church and the O’Fallon Kiwanis Club.