When Mason Zierden began considering options for his Eagle Scout project, his mind went to the flag of the United States. 

“Showing respect for the flag and for our country is so important,” Zierden said on the afternoon of Nov. 2. 

Joined by his parents Bob and Lori, Mason stood near the Albany Area Schools’ softball fields (behind the district bus garage), gazing up at the stars and stripes dangling from atop of brand new flagpole. 

The sight was confirmation for Mason that his efforts, which began in early summer 2018, were well worthwhile. 

Mason has been involved with the Boy Scouts organization since joining the Cub Scouts as a 4th grader. Now a 10th grader in the district, his project completion will earn him the rank of Eagle Scout. 

In order to reach the rank, Scouts must earn a total of 21 merit badges, 13 of which are specific to being an Eagle Scout. Mason has achieved all of the needed badges and proudly displays them on a sash. 

As he approached the major step of completing a project, Mason came to the realization that the softball fields did not have a flagpole and began the process of reaching his rank while creating a place for the flag to fly. 

Mason started with the completion of a lot of paperwork and approvals that came from the Boy Scouts Council as well as the Albany Area School Board. Both approved of his idea. 

“Once I had approval, I began my fundraising efforts and began putting my plan into action,” Mason said, adding that support from local businesses to make his goal and reality was immense. “I was so impressed with how willing they were to help make this happen and I am so grateful for their support.” 

Through the process, Mason says he has learned many life skills, including approaching and speaking with sponsors, planning and project management. He points out that his role in the project was to manage and oversee, rather than physically doing the work. 

“That was a tough concept for me, since I like to just jump in and get to work,” he said. “And while I did do some hands on parts, I needed to learn how to set up the schedule for when all the steps took place and guide and manage volunteers. I definitely learned how to be more firm from that experience.”

Mason spent time meeting with Albany Area School Superintendent Greg Johnson for guidance as he worked through his plan and fielded questions and comments from the school board as he made progress. Their insight, he said, was much appreciated. 

“There is a lot that goes into something like this – it was great to have feedback and insight,” Mason said. 

The new flagpole has secure, interior controls to avoid issues with it being tampered with. It also has a solid base where the logos of supports are displayed on a granite plaque. A bright, energy efficient light also shines on the flag from sundown to sunup. 

With Mason’s project complete, his parents are proud to see how he has grown and of the positive impact his project will have. 

“It makes us very proud to see him working through this whole process and to reach this point,” Bob said. 

“There were a lot of responsibilities he needed to take on and he became a leader through this,” Lori said. “We are very proud!” 

For Mason, seeing the stars and stripes fly above the fields where Albany athletes practice and compete brings pride not only in the country and the freedoms the flag represents, but also in his community and the many volunteers who stepped in to allow his goal to be achieved. 

“This whole project turned out exactly as I envisioned it,” he said with a smile. “I want to thank everyone who helped in any way. They supported me and I couldn’t have done this without them!”