Which state had the most Eagle Scouts in 2016?

Utah’s state motto is “Industry,” but I’m going to propose a new one: “Home of Eagle Scouts.”

That’s because no state produced more Eagle Scouts in 2016 than Utah. Thanks in large part to the strong support Scouting receives from the LDS church there, 5,664 young men became Eagle Scouts in Utah in 2016.

Utah is No. 1 on the list for at least the eighth year in a row. That’s every year since 2009 — the first year for which detailed Eagle Scout statistics were made available to me.

California, Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina round out 2016’s top 5. See the complete list — 1 to 50 — below.

Then keep reading for the population-adjusted numbers.

Utah 5,664
California 5,044
Texas 4,308
Pennsylvania 2,461
North Carolina 2,215
Virginia 2,112
New York 2,060
Ohio 1,876
Florida 1,741
Illinois 1,739
Georgia 1,586
Arizona 1,484
New Jersey 1,444
Missouri 1,385
Idaho 1,320
Washington 1,318
Michigan 1,266
Maryland 1,075
Massachusetts 1,047
Minnesota 980
Colorado 972
Indiana 904
Wisconsin 896
Tennessee 873
Connecticut 766
Kansas 644
South Carolina 633
Alabama 620
Oregon 582
Iowa 533
Nevada 533
Kentucky 487
Oklahoma 487
Nebraska 439
Mississippi 395
Louisiana 361
Hawaii 288
Arkansas 282
New Hampshire 214
Rhode Island 202
Montana 198
New Mexico 186
Maine 179
West Virginia 175
Wyoming 142
Alaska 140
South Dakota 134
Delaware 131
North Dakota 102
Vermont 74

But wait! It’s not really fair to look at these numbers without adjusting for population.

I mean, of course more young men will become Eagle Scouts in the nation’s state with the most people under 18 (California) than the one with the least (Vermont).

So …

Which state had the most Eagle Scouts in 2016 after adjusting for population?

I used the data available here, which supplied the number of people under age 18 in each of our 50 states.

Utah topped this list as well, with one new Eagle Scout for every 161 people under 18. But the population-adjusted numbers moved these states from outside the top 10 into it: Idaho, Wyoming, Connecticut, Missouri, Rhode Island, Nebraska and Hawaii.

California, second on the unadjusted list, moves to 41 on the adjusted list.

  1. Utah
  2. Idaho
  3. Virginia
  4. Wyoming
  5. Connecticut
  6. Missouri
  7. North Carolina
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Nebraska
  10. Hawaii
  11. Pennsylvania
  12. Arizona
  13. Kansas
  14. Montana
  15. Washington
  16. New Hampshire
  17. Maryland
  18. Nevada
  19. Colorado
  20. Minnesota
  21. Massachusetts
  22. Alaska
  23. Iowa
  24. New Jersey
  25. Ohio
  26. Maine
  27. Wisconsin
  28. Oregon
  29. Delaware
  30. South Dakota
  31. Georgia
  32. Vermont
  33. Texas
  34. Illinois
  35. North Dakota
  36. Tennessee
  37. South Carolina
  38. Michigan
  39. Indiana
  40. Alabama
  41. California
  42. Mississippi
  43. Oklahoma
  44. New York
  45. Kentucky
  46. West Virginia
  47. Florida
  48. Arkansas
  49. New Mexico
  50. Louisiana

What were the 2016 numbers for Eagle Scouts who don’t live in the 50 states?

Eagle Scouts don’t just live in the 50 United States. They’re everywhere.

Puerto Rico 189
Transatlantic Council 180
Far East Council 95
Washington, D.C. 19
Direct Service Council 7
Virgin Islands (Now merged into council No. 82) 1

For more Eagle Scout stats, click here.


Hat tip: Thanks to the BSA’s Mike Lo Vecchio for the data.

28 Comments

  1. Volume, smcholume – I am greatly concerned about the rigor of the Eagle process. Merit badge and Eagle Scout mills do a great disservice to the badge. The BSA audits money and membership but are we auditing the Eagle process? I read with great interest the eagle projects being touted but are these the exception rather than the rule?

  2. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that LDS Scouts basically have their own set of standards, complete with a “streamlined” first-year program where they’re given First Class just for showing up and merit badge clinics where they can earn all three Citizenship in one day. In areas where Eagle Scout is actually earned, numbers are much lower.

    • I believe your description is an unfair oversimplification of the LDS program. Contrary to your false statements:
      – They do not have different standards for Boy Scout advancement. They generally have a special troop dedicated to the 11 year-olds, and another troop for the 12-18 year-olds. The rank requirements are no different than non-LDS scouts.
      – They are not given 1st Class “just for showing up.” They are strongly encourage to complete as many of the 1st Class requirements in that year when they are in a troop of 11-year olds.
      – They’re Young Mens program is not streamlined. In fact it limits the number of nights an 11 year old can camp. Therefore, it is not currently possible for 11-year-olds to earn first class in their first year.
      – The MB program is not corrupt (no more than in districts with fewer LDS units).

      What is different? Scouting is *the* youth program for boys in the LDS church. Every bishop is expected to provide it in his stake, and every of-age boy and parent is expected to participate at least in that first year. This results in more LDS boys starting scouting, and consequently, more aging out as scouts and earning Eagle in the process. And, obviously, since Utah is noted for its numbers of LDS stakes, it earns those numbers.

      The workings of this are publicly available on LDS and BSA websites, and open, factual discussions on the pros and cons of working the troops in this framework may be found on most forums devoted to scouting.

      P.S. – I am not a Mormon. And have no material or spiritual interest in these clarifications. The only motive is the 1st point of the scout law.

      • Bob is correct.

        Q, I live in Utah, I am Mormon and I am a new Scoutmaster. I was not raised in Utah, and I am an Eagle Scout.

        I have never seen so many merit badge clinics on the council level and on the “Stake” level that a scout can earn so many merit badges quicker than going to scout camp.

        It is not ran by the boys but by the adults and parents. I have a self proclaimed Mormon BSA guru down the street from me that signs off merit badges without the boys doing anything with him. I do not allow my scouts to use him as a councilor anymore. He signed off a “Cooking” merit badge and the scout never cooked anything with him… how is that possible?

        Here in Utah all you have to do for the most part is show up to activities that the adults plan and you rise up thru the ranks and are handed merit badges.

        My troop is getting back to the basics and learning that it is ran by them the Scouts… I am excited to see the changes that are about to happen and see them grow.

        • That’s very sad that some of that is going on in your area. I came out of an LDS troop and volunteer in one today in California with about half of the boys being from the LDS faith and half coming from other faiths. There are no gurus here or easy merit badge clinics. I’m not disputing that there might be some out there but I haven’t seen it in LDS and none LDS units. What few merit badge clinics I have seen over the years had pre work required by the scouts that wanted to get the badge signed off for all but the very easiest merit badges such as Fingerprinting.

          We just returned from our council’s Scout Camp and I saw the scouts in our troop earn anywhere from 3-7 merit badges each. Those earning the 7 really had to hustle and had little free time for anything else. There were often pre-requisites that also had to be completed before coming to camp in many cases. Some who only earned 3 also had to work hard using their free time to complete requirements from the classes such as essays, experiments, hands on tasks, etc. The merit badges they happened to choose were more demanding in many cases. There were a few that didn’t use their time wisely and who did not come away with many merit badges simply because they didn’t want to get the work done during their free time. That was their choice to make. No one drug them kicking and screaming across the finish line for their merit badges and they had ample opportunities.

          One scout never turned in a merit badge card for Environmental Science so he got nothing for his time. The previous year he earned a partial but lost that card for the same merit badge. I told him that he had to show some responsibility and turn in his card if he expected to get signed off. He really didn’t care and I can’t make him care so he did the work for the second year in a row and did not earn the badge.

          My one rule for free time at scout camp was that they had to be out doing something productive and not sitting in camp sleeping in their tent or poking the fire pit during that time. I refer to scouts that do that as Camp Rats and we don’t have any of those in our troop’s site. There are some boys that would do nothing all day but lay in their tent if we let them while their fellow scouts are out swimming, mountain biking, climbing, boating, welding, observing nature, shooting, or some other cool activity.

          As for a scout you mentioned getting signed off by a councilor having never cooked anything with him, that’s probably pretty common. The scout does the cooking with his troop or patrol or at home. The requirements even have a section for cooking at home, camp cooking, and trail and backpacking meals. There is not a section in the requirements entitled “Cooking with Your Merit Badge Counselor” It would be pretty unusual for a scout to do the actual cooking with the counselor unless he was also a scout leader and accompanying the scout on the outing.

          I can think of only a handful of merit badges outside of an organized BSA Scout Camp where the counselor was actually present when I was completing the major activities of a merit badge back when I was a scout and rarely see anything like that today. Unless the requirement is demonstrate, show, or discuss with the merit badge counselor, the actual work is done elsewhere and reported to the counselor when meeting with them to finish the sign off.

          Does this open up the possibility that a scout might lie about what they have done? That has always been a possibility but the scout law is clear that a scout is “Trustworthy”. If scouts are earning merit badges by not being truthful with their merit badge counselor, then there is a problem with scouts living the Scout Oath and Law, not so much with the counselor unless he or she is aware that they are being lied to and they do not care.

        • I was a Scoutmaster about 20 years ago and our troop was led by youth leaders who were nominated by their fellow Scouts. They would plan all of the activities with my supervision. I set up an online calendar that tracked and communicated all activities to parents and participants. We had great quarterly planning sessions, truly earned merit badges, attended summer camps, went on monthly camp outs as a troop, learned and earned many merit badges, and grew young men closer to manhood. Almost every boy in the troop achieved his Eagle Scout award, not only because of his own hard work, but because of the great support and encouragement of his parents, leaders, and fellow scouts.

          To present a gross generalization that Utah Eagle Scouts don’t earn their merit badges or rank advancements is simply silly. Yes, there will always be those who work outside or around the system, but the majority of troops I have seen have excellent leaders and hard working Scouts.

        • Since I have no first-hand knowledge of your unit I can’t comment on how closely the MB requirements are being followed… but I felt this merits a response:
          “He signed off a “Cooking” merit badge and the scout never cooked anything with him… how is that possible?”
          There is no requirement in the cooking MB that a scout must cook *with* the counselor…

  3. As an Eagle from the 70’s, I’ve witnessed what I would consider a watering down of the program. That said, I still see Scouting as not only the best program out there, but it is still effectively getting the points of personal, civic, and environmental responsibility across to the youth of today. Good, bad or indifferent, Scouting still rocks!!!

  4. It seemed like up until 10 or 15 years ago if a boy wanted to make Eagle he worked hard to earn his Eagle.

    Now it seems more that if parents want a boy to make Eagle they threaten and/or bargain with him into working hard to get Eagle.

    • Really? Watered down? How so? Are you implying that new Eagle Scouts didn’t earn it like you did? You sound bitter and I wonder why? Did you research all these new Eagle Scouts? Why would you throw out this theory? Is it based on your impeccable knowledge and wisdom? Did you expect people to appreciate this theory? Why can’t all you critics with your theories of the watered down frauds we allow to lollygag to Eagle just keep your opinions to yourselves EVER? Is it cheerful? helpful?

      These are all rhetorical questions of course and I definitely won’t comment again but this bugged me because…stop judging. The many Eagle Scouts I know are the best! They are not the best because of their official “Eagle” status, but because they are the hard working young men with character and there is nothing watered down about them. The program will never be perfect, just like none of us will ever be perfect.

      • When people tell me that scouting is easier now or that it has become watered down I always go back to the conversation I had with my uncle when I became an Eagle Scout. He was amazed at the work involved in earning the Eagle Scout rank now. He didn’t have to plan, organize, and lead an Eagle Service Project when he earned the rank. He only had to complete the required number of merit badges. I also think it is interesting that the average age of an Eagle Scout has risen from 14.6 years old in 1949 to over 17.3 years today. If it was so easy now and watered down with leaders giving away the badges, why has the average age a Scout earns an Eagle gone up by nearly three years?

  5. I am an Unit Commissioner here in Utah. I am in charge of Eagle projects and Board of reviews in my zone. The last ten + boys I’ve had the opportunity to review have been the highest quality young men I’ve ever met. They haven’t had an easy ride through. They did their best and their goals for the future are outstanding! Every boy needs a mentor to help him sometimes keep on track but in the end they earn it.

    • As a leader of 20 years, I see the program changes that are good. I also see the merit badge programs where you have to do little more than show up and someone lectures and you earn the merit badge. The boys earning Eagle are still top notch.

  6. I do see water-downed Eagle Scout projects that shouldn’t have been approved because it was way too easy. It really has to do with how we properly train the scout leaders. But Overall, the Boy Scout program is 2nd to none when it comes to building boys to be virtuous, strong mentally & physically.

  7. I have been with Scouting for the past 9 years and have seen as many Eagles in our Troop (Narragansett Council). The things that I have observed:

    1. BSA has watered the program down. Boards of Review can no longer ask specific skill questions.
    2. BSA and local councils are much more paper-focused. There seems to be be far more attention placed on forms, paperwork, dues, and fundraising than on a quality camping program.
    3. There is definitely an unhealthy emphasis placed on the Eagle rank by parents, who are more concerned with achieving the rank for the resume and not so concerned that their son becomes a well-rounded, honorable young man.
    4. Despite the above, I am hopeful for the future: the quality of the boys and the quality of the local leaders is still top notch: It has been my honor and privilege to serve with some of the finest individuals I’ve ever met. One of my Scouts just finished his project; he restored a memorial, during which he put in close to 100 personal hours, managed 2 town departments, 1 private contractor, 1 community organization, a troop of scouts, miscellaneous vendors all through his senior year of high school

    • The Scoutmaster Conference and Board of Review process was never intended to be a re-test. They are more of a quality control check on the program. That being said, you can continue either one of those at a later date, if you feel the Scout has not demonstrated adequate understanding.

      • Exactly. The conference and the board of review were never meant to be retesting time. To be frank, I could not remember most of the knots and lashing I learned in scouting six months after I passed them off. Any skill that is not continually used is soon forgotten. But what I could do and what I have seen many scouts do is look in the scout book for a quick refresher before using those skills again. Nearly ever time, they are able to use those skills again once they remind themselves what to do. I have helped scouts learn the two half hitches and taught line hitch for years and every time I have to look in the book to refresh my memory. But I can do some of the other knots from memory with no problem. If my scoutmaster or the board retested me on those two hitches even the day after I taught them, I’d be in a world of trouble!

  8. “Virgin Islands (Now merged into council No. 82)”
    So where are the “Council No. 82” numbers or is that the # for Puerto Rico?

  9. The Eagle rank is earned through a rigorous process that, if starting from Tiger, can take 12 years. Each boy must earn each rank based on national standards. Having been on the review committee, project proposals are scrutinized and turned down if not difficult enough. I have seen Scouts turned down after their project is complete for missing a step in the process. Troops take pride in their Scouts’ accomplishments because they know what each boy has been through to get there. My son’s project was called the hardest the leaders have been involved with, and nobody told him he could do less work. He chose it, and everyone worked alongside him, encouraging and advising. He earned it as do every Eagle Scout I have known. NCAC Troop 422

  10. Whole lot of complaints and not much constructive feedback. Don’t complain about what you’re not willing to change.

  11. I want to know how many single moms help their sons get to Eagle Scout. I would like that statistic pulled out. Pointed out, because we have to do the work of 2 parents. I am a single mom and we worked very hard side by side, the two of us! His dad chose not to be a part of his life! I am very proud of my son!

  12. Any chance we will see the break down of Eagle Scouts by council for 2016? I always look forward to seeing that list. Thank you for the great blog!

  13. I would be interested in seeing what the numbers look like next year. Last Thursday the LDS Church announced it is pulling boys ages 14 – 18 out of the BSA, and will develop a program better aligned with its values. The article I read mentioned specifically Varsity and Venturing programs, but there are many boys that earn their Eagle within their targeted age range. I received my Eagle two days before my 14th birthday, but have always been under the impression that is more of the exception rather than the rule.

    • Lee Howard – The LDS Church is not pulling boys out of the scouting program at 14.

      They are no longer going to participate in the Venture and Varsity programs. Almost no boys get the Varsity and Venture awards or even do any part of the program. There is very little interest in those programs so why spend the time and money registering boys and leaders into a program that they will not use. As I understand it, they can stay in Scouts until 18 as needed.

      I foresee a huge increase in Eagle ranks this year as parents use this to encourage boys to finish it before the new year.

      • Exactly what I’ve been told. Any scout that wants to continue to be a scout in an LDS chartered unit can do so after age 14 but they won’t be registered in a Team or Crew as they had before. I earned my Eagle in a Varsity Team many years ago but never earned any of the Varsity awards. It pretty much functioned like the Troop did but with older boys and some more intense activities than the younger boys were doing. Most had no interest in earning their BSA Varsity letter when they were busy earning athletic letters in High School. I rarely saw this program function as intended. The LDS church will offer a more faith based activity program for boys not interested in Scouting after they turn 14 and Scouts who are over the age of 14 in LDS troops who want to do both. I heard this from the District Commissioner this past week at Scout Camp who also is involved in the LDS church’s Young Men’s program for the Stake that encompasses the district. They basically found a hole in their youth program with some boys losing interest in scouting in their later teens and decided to provide another option for them in addition to dropping two BSA programs that were not working well. Older boys losing interest in scouting is nothing new and I applaud the LDS church for trying something to keep engaged with those boys outside of Scouting. The focus of resources into Boy Scouts instead of three programs may actually improve the troops and keep more older boys interested as well.

      • This is partially the case. I got a very strong impression from the LDS leadership’s comments when this story broke that the LDS is only keeping the BSA around until they’ve developed their own parallel program, and then they’ll be dropping it completely. So while there may be a spike in Eagles in the next year or two, Utah and Idaho will quickly drop from the top rankings.

  14. It will be interesting to see how the LDS responds if/when girls are allowed into Scouting. If they withdraw and create their own program for boys, that will be a big hit to BSA membership and funding.

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