“Through all sorts of different volunteering opportunities I’ve gained an awareness of the struggles that other people have, and an appreciation for all of the many blessings that I enjoy. After every instance of helping other people, I feel a strong sense of community,” says Evan Pierce McCollum, a senior at St. Martin’s Episcopal School.

McCollum is an Eagle Scout as part of the Boy Scouts of America. One of the rank requirements for the organization is to plan and lead a service project to benefit a nonprofit organization. McCollum decided to plant trees to combat the deforestation caused by Hurricane Katrina and flooding.

“When I became an Eagle Scout, I pledged on my sacred honor to do my duty to God and my country. I pledged to live a life of honor, loyalty and courage, providing cheerful service to my community. I strive to do a ‘good turn’ for someone each day,” says McCollum.

He managed 25 volunteers planting 125 native Louisiana trees on the spillway, including nut all oaks and bald cypress trees. From the 125 original seedlings, over 75 percent survived and grow stronger and taller over four years later.

Joe Hasney, McCollum’s first Scoutmaster, was an example of leadership and was a role model to him.

“Hasney’s gentle encouragement of the Scout Oath, which asks us to ‘help other people at all times’ really resonated with me and made me want to be a productive member of my community,” says McCollum.

McCollum is also involved in many positive activities to help his community. He was a camp counselor at Camp Rainbow, a camp for special needs children in Jefferson Parish, a representative at the 2017 Louisiana Boys State  (LABS) program, and a number of organizations at St. Martin’s.

At LABS, he spent a week at Northwestern Louisiana State University with over 400 rising senior boys. They learned about state and local government systems. As a result, McCollum learned that in order to make a real change in the community, one needs to communicate their message effectively and get buy-in from all stakeholders.

McCollum wants to learn more about Homeland Security, so in 2016 he attended the National Student Leadership Conference on Intelligence and Homeland Security in Washington D.C. He participated in several seminars where he learned more about career options in the future. McCollum’s life goal is to become an Aviator in the United States Navy or Marine Corps. He hopes to go the United States Naval Academy or join the NROTC program at Tulane University.