Glenn A. Adams ended each of his quarterly columns for Eagles’ Call magazine the same way: “from the Eagle trail.”
How appropriate, because for eight years as president of the National Eagle Scout Association, he has led the way as countless Scouts took the trail toward Scouting’s highest honor.
Just as important, though, has been Adams’ understanding that the Eagle trail doesn’t end with the awarding of the red, white and blue medal and badge.
Once you’re an Eagle, you’re an Eagle for life, which is why Adams was committed to tracking down and inviting Eagle Scout alumni to reconnect with the program by joining NESA. Under his leadership, NESA located more than 62 percent of living Eagle Scouts, and NESA membership grew by 20 percent.
Adams’ greatest legacy unquestionably will be NESA’s robust scholarship program. During the Adams presidency, NESA more than quadrupled its annual scholarship funds — from $150,000 awarded in 2007 to $650,000 awarded in 2015.
Adams will step aside as NESA president at the BSA’s annual meeting this week, but his legacy will live on well into the tenure of his successor, Frank D. Tsuru of Houston.
Part of that legacy is embodied in the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award, which honors outstanding Eagle Scout projects through recognition at the council, regional and national levels.
But that’s just part of the Adams story.
Eight years of selfless service
Adams’ tenure as NESA president — May 2008 to May 2016 — is the second-longest in NESA history. Dr. Robert M. Gates, the former defense secretary, served in that role for nine years.
Adams was at the helm in 2012 when NESA celebrated the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the first Eagle Scout. He worked closely with BSA artist Joe Csatari to create an iconic painting commemorating the occasion.
In addition to celebrating the history of Eagle Scouts, Adams has helped cement their future.
After reading a book about Eagle Scout and Antarctic explorer Paul Siple, Adams had the idea for the NESA World Explorers Program, which sends Eagle Scouts to places like the Amazon, South Africa and the Galápagos for scientific research.
Councils have benefited from Adams’ tenure, too. He created the NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award, which lets councils recognize stellar Eagle Scouts. And the number of council NESA committees, which had been stagnant for a decade, increased from 70 to more than 220.
Praise for Adams
Bill Steele, who as NESA director from 2007 until 2014 was Adams’ professional counterpart, called Adams a visionary.
“Glenn Adams will be a tough act to follow as NESA president,” Steele says. “He took NESA to new heights, where it is certain to remain.”
Dustin Farris, current NESA director, agrees.
“Glenn has made invaluable contributions that, along with his entrepreneurial spirit, have helped transform this great association,” he says.
What’s next for Adams?
The Distinguished Eagle Scout, Silver Buffalo Award recipient and 2012 BSA Alumnus of the Year plans to remain active in NESA and will become the top volunteer at the Florida Sea Base — the place his father, William L. Adams, helped develop.
In his farewell column to readers of NESA’s Eagles’ Call magazine, Adams wrote about both his decision to step down as NESA president and his next Scouting chapter.
“I felt that the opportunity to make an impact on Sea Base was one that I could not pass up,” Adams writes. “Also, I am a firm believer that volunteer jobs in the BSA, whether they are at the troop level, district, council or national level, should not become lifetime appointments. I find that a new set of eyes looking at even a well-run organization can provide long-term benefits.”
Thanks, Glenn, for all you have done for Eagle Scouts and non-Eagle Scouts. I look forward to the next time our paths cross on the trail.