Howard County Teen Named Student Leader Of The Year

(BRAZIL) – The vision, several designs, intense fundraising, and careful construction of a K-9 project at the Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch earlier this year earned a Howard County teen the Boy Scouts of America’s top honor.

Now, sheriffs who lead the Youth Ranch are naming Ezra Spencer as their “Student Leader of the Year.”

“Ezra Spencer, son of Todd and Donis Spencer of Kokomo, was safely surrounded last spring by family, fellow scouts and other friends as his Eagle Scout badge was added to his already decorated BSA uniform,” said former Marion County Sheriff John Layton, ISYR board president.  

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; and 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 ISYR Board Trustee and Clay County Sheriff Paul Harden. “We were impressed with his enthusiasm, understanding, helpfulness and leadership.”

Ripley County Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth, an ISYR board member, said “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 visitors future learning opportunities.”

Ezra serves as a good example for other youth statewide, said Bartholomew County Sheriff Matthew A. Myers, another ISYR board member. “His involvement with our Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch will undoubtedly be a great boyhood memory. But he, his parents, and his mentor should know his Eagle Scout project will be appreciated and utilized for many years to come. His dedication and hard work will for decades help make Indiana homes, schools, and businesses safer. That’s why Ezra Spencer is today being named ‘Student Leader of the Year’ by our Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch.”

To donate or volunteer at the Youth Ranch, Myers said to write the Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch, 5325 N. State Road 59, Brazil, IN 47834, call 317-460-4242 or email