NESA Distinguished Service Award

In 1976, the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) committee established the NESA Distinguished Service Award. This award is given to recognize those who have given extraordinary leadership and service to NESA resulting in a significant impact on a national or regional level. It is given for dedicated service over a period of years to NESA, promotion and reengagement of Eagle Scouts and young people earning rank of Eagle Scouts. It is for lengthy national or regional to NESA/Eagle Scout service and not a distinguished citizen or person of the year award.

in 2021, the National Eagle Scout Association is recognizing eight servant leaders for distinguished achievements in support of NESA and Eagle Scouts.

The following excerpts were gathered from NESA’s facebook page.

Glenn Adams

Glenn’s leadership and service to NESA began when he became a member of NESA in 2000 and shortly after served as the NESA national president from 2008 until 2016. During his tenure as president, NESA membership increased 20% and the first modern technology Eagle Scout search was conducted across the US. The results of the search included the establishment of an Alumni Eagle Book, NESA coffee table books, and an annual Eagle Scout Yearbook.

The Eagle Scout search found 62% (1,116,000) of the estimated 1.8 million living Eagles Scouts of the BSA. The Centennial Celebration of the First Eagle Scout Award was held in 2012 under Glenn’s leadership and the first NESA at NOAC event was held.

NESA scholarships have increased by 207% during the past 6 years with the help of a $1 million endowment. The new NESA STEM Scholarship ($50,000/year) was established and is the largest given by BSA. The NESA @ SBR program was established at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.

The Eagle Scout World Explorer Program was established with Mr Adam’s support. The Eagle Scout World Explorer program is a national competition to select an Eagle Scouts in different STEM fields to participate in extraordinary adventures with world class explorers and adventurers. The National BSA Foundation established a new legacy program for NESA (NESA World Explorers Fund) which will help fund the program.

Glenn and his wife Melinda established and funded the Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award. Eagle Scouts from across the country compete for scholarships for education or for high adventure as part of this program. Glenn also unveiled and implemented the NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award (NOESA) which honors exceptional Eagle Scouts of all ages in local councils and regionally. He promoted the establishment of NESA.org that has become a highly effective resource for all Eagle Scouts. Under his guidance the IT professionals crafted the website to enhance the visitor experience and to make it more relevant to Eagle Scouts of all ages.

One of Glenn’s early initiatives was to increase the number of NESA committees in all local councils. Today, the number of local council NESA committees has grown from 70 to over 220.

Rick Bragga

Rick’s leadership and service to NESA spans nearly a decade and a half when he joined the national committee back in 2008. During his years of service Bragga has been instrumental serving on the NESA Awards Selection committee for over 12 years. He designed and served as faculty for every week-long NESA/Alumni training at Philmont Training Center for the past decade. Rick has also held the responsibility as the vice president for training where he crafted and conducted hour long National NESA/Alumni “road shows” in Atlanta; Washington, DC; Raleigh; and, St. Louis.

Rick held the key role of developing and maintaining the NESA website and launched the social media channels back in 2013 taking NESA into the daily lives of all Eagle Scouts. Service over advancement, council support and book publishing projects all flourished under his guiding hand as well.

Rick equally has devoted much effort into cultivating the next group of national/community leaders where he has successfully been involved in nominating eight individuals that now are proud recipients of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. He has been instrumental in selecting the past three Southern Region NESA/Alumni Vice Presidents as well as mentoring them in their role.

If you have recently attended a National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) chances are you may have participated in one or more of the six one-hour long NESA/alumni seminars he wrote and delivered. During the BSA National Annual Meetings, Bragga has hosted six Spark Sessions serving as moderator and twice as the key presenter for those sessions.

Let’s not forget Rick also actively promotes NESA programs for the next generation of Eagle Scouts on a national and regional level where he has served on the National NESA Scholarship selection committee and the Southern Region selection committee for several years.

Ray Capp

Ray’s integration of the NESA@NOAC 100th Anniversary celebration was a huge success and demonstrated the partnership opportunities that continues to exist between the Order of the Arrow and the National Eagle Scout Association. As a result of the event, over 7,000 participants shared in the celebration dedicated to the first Eagle Scout award. The participants listened to four renowned Eagle Scouts talk about what the rank of Eagle Scout meant and how being an Eagle Scout had changed their lives.

Additionally, Mr Capp was instrumental in ensuring the education of hundreds of youth attending the NOAC series: “Getting over the Finish Line: Completing Your Eagle Project”; “College: The Eagle Scout Way ” with Dr. David Briscoe; and, numerous Arrowmen learned about NESA and the BSA Alumni program through two 3-hour training sessions that were taught. The success of the 2012 NESA@NOAC was so well received that NESA also participated in training at 2015 and 2018 events as well.

Ray has a served five years as an active member of the NESA National Committee. Capp has significantly promoted and/or reengaged Eagle Scouts on the national level in many areas. He tirelessly worked on numerous special projects directed in partnership by the NESA president on a multitude of topics and most recently lead the effort to reinstitute the NESA Distinguished Service Award (DSA) program.

Ray encouraged and led the effort to name the role of NESA president as an ex-officio member of the BSA National nominating committee and even shepherd the appointment of the NESA president to the National Court of Honor thus solidifying NESA prominence in BSA program.

Once again, Ray elevated the youth affluence by suggesting and facilitating the OA National Chief’s role to serve on the NESA committee as well. As chairman of the BSA Alumni Association, he continues to support and promote many of the NESA affiliates and other related affinity groups during the BSA Annual Meeting which includes a NESA representative attending and maturing the blossoming partnership opportunities within the greater BSA alumni community.

The Honorable Pete Sessions

Congressman Sessions has chaired the Eagles on the Hill event beginning in 2006. The Eagles on the Hill is a NESA sponsored event occurring during the annual Scouting Report to the Nation in Washington, D.C. A small delegation of youth and adults delivers the BSA’s annual report to the U.S. Government since it is chartered by Congress.

The Gathering of Eagles on Capitol Hill invites all Eagle Scout members of Congress to attend as well as other national dignitaries. The Capitol Hill Gathering of Eagles has taken place annually ever since.

As a U.S. Congressman and chairman of the annual BSA Report to the Nation Capitol Hill Gathering of Eagles event, Pete Sessions has importantly rekindled Scouting in the minds of our elected national leaders. This factor has been called on in many ways pertaining to issues important to the BSA.

Pete was also the “go to” guy for advice and assistance on matters involving the BSA and the U.S. Government. An example of this was how his guidance and support was instrumental in making a BSA 100th anniversary commemorative coin produced by the US Treasury in 2010.

Also in 2010 Pete Sessions became a member of the national NESA Committee.

Dr. Robert Gates

Dr Gates served as president of NESA for ten years while also he served as president of Texas A & M University.

Dr Gates increased the focus on the annual Eagle Scout scholarship programs and oversaw the largest increase of both fundraising and scholarship distribution.

Gates assisted in approval and funding process for the NESA exhibit at the National BSA Scouting Museum in Irving, TX with focus on the history of Eagle Scouts.

Bob has spoken across the country at local councils and other events to promote NESA and Scouting and even served as the national BSA president.

With focus on outreach, Gates drove the improvement of the NESA website and its national/global reach; which also lead to the modernization and computerizing of NESA records.

Another significant contribution lead by Dr Gates included the raising of the level of NESA as a part of the Americanism breakfast during the BSA Annual Meeting by identifying and recruiting featured speakers who are also NESA members/Eagle Scouts thus improving the impact of the event.

According to Bill Steele, the former NESA director, “Bob rolled up his sleeves and took NESA to a whole new level.”

C. William Steele

  • While a professional Scouter, Bill consistently went above and beyond in his personal commitment of time, engagement of volunteers and sharing leadership such as:
  • Provided staff support, direction and served under NESA Presidents Steve Fossett and Glenn Adams from 2007 -2014
  • With volunteers, taught a week long NESA and alumni relations course at Philmont Training Center from 2009-2014
  • Managed the establishment of the NESA Legacy Society for endowment
  • Participated in NESA/Alumni training Road Shows at multiple locations West of St. Louis, Missouri
  • Creation and implementation of the council/regional level NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award program
  • Managed NESA participation in the BSA Americanism Breakfast, 2007-2014
  • Introduced the NESA silver bordered Life Membership knot providing special opportunities for Lifetime members to show their NESA pride
  • Lead NESA through the underwriting, establishment and support of the BSA alumni
  • The first modern electronic nationwide Eagle Scout search, succeeding in locating 65% of all living Eagle Scouts
  • Increases in the number of Eagle Scout scholarships by 70% and the scholarship money awarded by 47%
  • Adding well over $1 million to the NESA scholarship funds
  • Creation of the NESA/Alumni store thereby increasing visibility of the NESA brand
  • Celebrated the centennial anniversary year of the BSA and the first Eagle Scout with exhibitions and training at the National Jamborees (2010; 2013) and NOAC (2012)
  • Creation of the Glenn and Melinda Adams Eagle Scout Service Project program
  • Transition of the NESA scholarships to a completely electronic process
  • The establishment of NESA.org as a premier Eagle Scout website

Frank Tsuru

Frank began his association with NESA when he moved to the Sam Houston Area council in 2010, where he helped to create one of the strongest council NESA committees in the nation. After 5 years, Frank joined the National NESA committee and was soon after asked to become the NESA president (May 2016 to present). NESA’s highlights under Tsuru’s leadership include:

  • NESA has achieved 10% growth each year
  • Increased scholarship funding 5% year over year, raising the total in 2019 to where NESA awarded $750,000 to around 40 scouts.
  • Continued World Explorer Program to expend a once in lifetime experience to 21 Eagles sent throughout the world
  • Improved budget control, thereby increasing funds for scholarships and programs

Frank has reached out to Eagles in many ways over his tenure in NESA. One way is that of his initial involvement in the Sam Houston Area council where he grew the annual Eagle event to over 1000 people. Creating this event and stewarding it to re-engage Eagles and have them share their passions to help Scouts looking forward on the Trail to Eagle. This is one of the largest events for Eagles in the country.

Frank has also been very instrumental in the NESA presence at the 2017 National Jamboree and the NESA at the Jamboree for the 2019 World Jamboree. At the World Jamboree one event drew much attention from other National Scout Organizations with 1000 fold increase in attendance. One small photo opportunity turned into showing the world what being an Eagle Scout means to those who have earned it. As part of his NESA role Frank as also traveled the country appearing and speaking at many local and national NESA events.

Joe Weingarten

Joe started selling National Eagle Scout Association shirts at the 2010 National Jamboree. By the 2013 Jamboree, a full­service · NESA store (including Ebay auctions) was developed. Due to Joe’s thousands of hours per year (about 20 hours a week on average), the NESAStore.org has grown to the point of where Weingarten’s store is a major funding element for NESA that pays most of the expense for NESA at the Jamborees, National Order of the Arrow Conferences and other NESA discretionary expenses.

Joe’s NESA Store allows the membership to feel connected to and show pride in NESA and for parents to obtain items for their new Eagle Scouts. He has run this operation essentially single-handedly from creative new products, website development, packing and shipping.

Joe is an extremely active member of the NESA National Committee since 2013. Joe has provided guidance in the area of Awards and Recognitions and much about the history of NESA. Simply, Joe is a treasure to NESA.

When Joe relocated to Crossroads of America Council, he was asked to form a council NESA committee. Joe developed a prototype of a local council NESA committee and lead the committee for many years.

Joe interacts with many individuals who do not otherwise know how to contact NESA or get reconnected to Scouting. Through his dedication to answering their inquiries, Joe has helped countless Scouters get reconnected to NESA and reconnected to Scouting. To give a sense of the magnitude of Joe’s work over the past decade (since 2010), the NESA Store customer list has over 10,000 e-mail address. Joe’s work has also motivated thousands of “Future Eagle Scouts” through his distinctive “Future Eagle Scout” Pin (given to 4,000 Scouts at the 2013 and 2017 Jamborees) and “Future Eagle Scout” challenge coins (given at the 2015 NOAC and sold on-line). For the 1,000+ hours a year that Joe donates to NESA, he is almost certainly NESA’s hardest working volunteer.