Scouting has never left Gil Kerlikowske.
As commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Kerlikowske is the top guy at a 60,000-employee agency with a budget of $12.4 billion.
But before that, Kerlikowske was a Cub Scout and reached the rank of Second Class in Boy Scouting. He said his mom still has his uniform shirt stored somewhere.
“And she’s 92,” he said.
Despite a job that has him traveling across the country and around the world, Kerlikowske makes time to serve as a volunteer. He’s been a BSA district commissioner and has served on Eagle Scout boards of review, but his latest undertaking to benefit America’s youth is also his biggest.
He serves as chairman of the National Law Enforcement Exploring Committee, a volunteer position for which he oversees the law enforcement arm of the Exploring program.
On Tuesday, eight Scouts, one Venturer and one Explorer presented the Report to the Nation to Kerlikowske, offering the commissioner a glimpse at the past year in Scouting.
The moment was especially significant for Cynthia Garcia, National Youth Representative for Law Enforcement Exploring. Garcia, 19, is an Explorer with a post chartered to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Chicago office.
She has met Kerlikowske on multiple occasions because the two work in tandem to help grow Exploring nationwide. Exploring, a career-exploration program for young men and young women, seems primed for massive growth. It offers young people a taste of real careers in fields that are in need of young talent.
On Tuesday, Kerlikowske spent nearly 30 minutes answering the Scouts’ questions and explaining the role of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Scouts especially enjoyed hearing Kerlikowske describe some of the craziest things seized at our nation’s borders.
“One guy came into Miami with 13 birds down his pants,” he said. “Live birds.”
2015 Report to the Nation
Photos by Michael Roytek and Randy Piland.