At Earth Data Inc. in Centreville, Md., water cooler conversations cover the expected territory, like the Baltimore Ravens and the latest must-binge show on Netflix.
But sometimes the discussion shifts, moving to topics like merit badges, backpacking treks and Eagle Scout service projects.
Four of the 20 employees at Earth Data — exactly 20% — are Eagle Scouts. But this isn’t a case of an Eagle Scout CEO looking to hire others who earned Scouting’s highest honor.
No, Earth Data CEO Mark Williams is not an Eagle Scout.
“When I see Eagle Scout on a resume, I ask folks to talk about their service project, etc., during the interview,” he tells Bryan on Scouting. “One thing I find is the Eagle Scouts I’ve interviewed and hired tended to be more articulate — more mature. I think Scouting has a way of doing that.”
At Earth Data, analysts use high-tech tools to help customers make smarter decisions about things like water resource allocation. Though they’re experts at geographic information systems, or GIS, these researchers also spend time outside understanding the data in a real-world context.
Williams didn’t just hire the four Eagle Scouts on his team because they’re comfortable in the outdoors, however. He looks for employees who will treat others with respect and dignity — another area where Scouts shine.
“Eagle Scout is a differentiator — it makes you stand out from other applicants,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to make that known. Figure our a way to work that into your interview presentation. Tell folks what being an Eagle Scout means and has meant to you.”
‘Helpful in all aspects of my job’
Eagle Scout Jackson Forrest, a geospatial technical manager, listed “Eagle Scout” on his resume and brought it up during his interview with Earth Data.
After he got the job and started interacting with colleagues, the topic of Scouting naturally came up.
“I was excited that there were others at the company who I could discuss past experiences with — experiences you only get from Scouts,” he tells Bryan on Scouting. “Some of us had gone on trips to the same places and done similar things while working toward Eagle Scout.”
Forrest says Scouting has helped him work effectively in the team-based atmosphere at Earth Data. And remembering the Scout Motto has helped, too.
“Scouting taught me the importance of preparation, which I feel is helpful in all aspects of my job,” he says.
‘Now I know who to invite’
Eagle Scout JP Stokes, a senior hydrogeologist, says he was excited to learn about the three other Eagle Scouts in his midst.
“I knew who to invite on camping and backpacking adventures,” Stokes tells Bryan on Scouting.
Scouting has become a family activity for Stokes and his son, a First Class Scout who wants to be an Eagle Scout like his dad.
“Scouting teaches a love of the outdoors, environmental awareness, water resource sustainability, leadership, project management and goal setting,” Stokes says. “My Scouting background helps me at Earth Data every day.”
‘Confidence in my leadership ability’
For his Eagle project, geospatial analyst James Janis used native vegetation to beautify the drive to Assateague Island in Maryland. He had to solicit donations for the land, vegetation and supplies.
“The Eagle Scout project gave me confidence in my leadership ability and in obtaining goals,” he told The Cecil Whig.
Senior geologist Jeff Chipman’s Eagle project involved installing bookshelves at a local elementary school.
“It is very obvious that the lessons learned during my Eagle Scout project were, in fact, lessons on how to manage a project and ensure that it’s completed,” Chipman told The Cecil Whig. That lesson “has been invaluable in my work here.”
The four Eagle Scouts — and all their colleagues at Earth Data — continue to give back to their local communities through an initiative called Earth Data Giving. Employees can get paid time off for volunteer service.
Earth Data employees have worked to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, stocked fish with the Department of Natural Resources and volunteered at Cub Scout day camp.
Chipman says Scouting taught him “about being a valuable member of my community on the local and national level — and just how to have fun. All of the life lessons I learned helped me become who I am today.”
Thanks to NESA volunteer Joe Weingarten for the tip!