Ralls Easterling always wanted to follow in his older brother Schuiler's footsteps and become an Eagle Scout. Just recently he got his wish.
Easterling, an eighth grader at Auxvasse Elementary, attained the rank of Eagle Scout during a ceremony held in his honor Dec. 12. He said, at 13, he was pretty young to reach the status, and he did so by completing a project that helped his church. With monetary help from the congregation, Easterling remodeled the youth room at First Christian Church in Mexico. He said he cleaned the carpet, painted, fixed baseboards and refurbished the room with games, a snack area and a TV.
Community service is just one of the ways to achieve merits and climb the ladder of Boy Scouts of America ranks to eventually reach Eagle Scout, Easterling explained.
Kelly Branson is the leader of Troop 32 in Auxvasse, Easterling's Boy Scout pack. He said only 4 percent of scouts actually reach the Eagle Scout level.
"It's just a huge accomplishment to be an Eagle Scout," Branson said. "There's just many steps they have to go through."
Branson has known Easterling since he was in preschool and his son, Cole Branson, is in the same troop. He calls the Auxvasse teen a "role model."
"He's a fine scout. We've been involved with him a long time, and you couldn't find a better scout," he said.
Easterling said the thing he likes best about being a scout is it affords the opportunity to travel.
"You can go basically all over the country. In some cases, all over the world with Boy Scouts," he said. "You get to travel a bunch and do fun things."
The Eagle Scout went to Washington, D.C. and Virginia with the organization to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouts. He said he will be traveling to New Mexico next summer through Boy Scouts as well.
Other activities Easterling has participated in with his troop include marching in the Auxvasse Christmas parade, picking up trash, helping the Lions Club with its tractor pull and sponsoring food drives.
Easterling said he has "high ambitions" and hopes to go into the military when he is old enough. He said he thinks becoming an Eagle Scout will only bolster his future goals.
"It can help you out later on down the road with college scholarships and jobs," he said.
Saying boys who want to join the scouts have nothing to lose, Easterling said, "It will only benefit you and other people. It's a win, win situation."