Alabama teen sinks shrimp boat to earn Eagle Scout badge

Alabama teen sinks shrimp boat to earn Eagle Scout badge
An Eagle Scout badge is the top achievement for a member of the Boy Scouts. (Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The Eagle Scout badge is the highest honor for members of the Boy Scouts of America. It takes planning, perseverance, hard work and a good imagination.

An Alabama teen hit all of those benchmarks and completed an unusual project to achieve that coveted badge, sinking a shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Garrett Ard, a member of Troop 49 in Gulf Shores, sank the 50-foot steel boat Thursday to complete his public service Eagle project, WALA-TV reported. Several boats have been sunk offshore to attract fish for anglers. Ard, the son and grandson of fishing captains in Orange Beach, raised $25,000 to buy a 50-foot boat named Southern Heritage and sank it 13 miles offshore in 90 feet of water, the television station reported.

“We started the task when I was a freshman in high school and right then it seemed something that we just couldn’t do because buying a $20,000 boat just seems overwhelming, so we took it step by step,” Ard told WALA. “We gave presentations. We raised money and we’ve taken it kind of slowly.”

Ard said the project was to honor his late grandfather, Gloyice Ard, who died Dec. 31, 2008. The elder Ard owned Ard’s Flying Service in Jay, Florida, for 30 years before his retirement in 1994. He captained the charter the boat, Boll Weevil, according to his obituary in the Pensacola News-Journal.

“I grew up on this … in this marina, riding on boats and growing up on the water and the idea of making a reef, that just kind of made sense,” Garrett Ard told WALA. “Doing a memorial reef (for his grandfather) just seemed like the right thing to do.”

Ard raised $20,000 with help from the city of Orange Beach, the Gulf Coast Reef Foundation and family friend Buddy Guindon, a commercial fisherman from Galveston, Texas. The teen raised the balance through other projects, the television station reported.

The area where Ard sank the boat is part of the Alabama Artificial Reef Program. The boat will be listed as BSA Troop 49 when the reef map is updated, WALA reported.

“That was the most exciting part is that this is a reef that I can take my kids to," Ard told the television station. "It’s going to be hopefully a huge part of the fishing industry down here and something I can say when I’m an older man and say this is something I did when I was your age,” Ard said.