(BRAZIL) – A vision, several designs, intense fundraising, and careful construction of a K-9 project at the Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch have earned a Howard County teen the Boy Scouts of America’s top honor.
Ezra Spencer, son of Todd and Donis Spencer of Kokomo, was safely surrounded by family, fellow scouts, and other friends recently as his Eagle Scout badge was added to his already decorated BSA uniform.
“Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America,” said Phyllis Rogers, who mentored Spencer through the project. “Since this honor’s inception in 1911, just four percent of Scouts nationwide have earned this rank and only after a lengthy review process.”
Rogers was already a supporter of the sheriffs’ and deputies’ not-for-profit efforts to build a permanent 62-acre training and recreational retreat for future law enforcement officers, at-risk kids, young witnesses and victims of crime.
So, as Spencer’s designated Eagle Scout mentor, Rogers suggested a needed project at the recently acquired ISYR property in West Central Indiana would be impactful for all areas of the state for years to come. Spencer spoke with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security who trains at the Youth Ranch property and the K-9 Agility Course project was born.
Spencer was observed and encouraged by Rogers and his BSA Crew 2992 leaders as he wrote descriptions, drew designs, priced materials, sought private donations and managed the building of eight important K-9 Agility Course features now available to police and firefighters in training and certifying their four-legged partners:
- Elevated Dog Walk: teaches canines how to place their footing and build confidence on unstable surfaces
- Bark Barrels (3): trains dogs to give handlers their indications, even if they cannot see or access the subject – as in a disaster scenario
- Bark Boxes (3): similar training experiences for the canine, but allows better control by the instructor as to when the dog is rewarded
- Tunnel: teaches dogs to go through tight spaces.
“Ezra came to us with great ideas, energy, and resources to meet one of our wants and needs,” said Jeff Groh, IDHS Deputy Director. “We were impressed with his enthusiasm, understanding, helpfulness, and leadership.”
ISYR Executive Director Scott Minier added, “We were proud to partner with Ezra Spencer, Phyllis Rogers, BSA. and IDHS to add these features to the K-9 training and demonstration site. Ezra’s work will provide first responders valuable training skills and our Youth Ranch cadets’ future learning opportunities.”