As a child, Gregory H. Johnson enjoyed asking questions, especially when he could discover the answer for himself. And as Johnson explains in a recent article in the U.S. News and World Report, Scouting served as an avenue for him to explore his interests, fully embrace his inquisitive nature, and hone leadership skills that would later become crucial in his career as pilot of the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, a colonel in the Air Force, and the Executive Director for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).
“Scouting laid the groundwork for me on many levels. I learned it was more effective to lead kids my own age when I listened, stayed open to new ideas, and kept the plan flexible,” the Distinguished Eagle Scout explained. “Scouting showed me we had to persevere through challenges together, be authentic about successes and missteps, and learn along the way. Without knowing it, Scouting was planting seeds I would harvest later in life.”
Johnson also offers a unique perspective on kids today, skills tomorrow, and how Scouting has helped young people bolster their ingenuity and design thinking for generations.
“Much like space, the 21st century workplace is a frontier with new and at times unpredictable opportunities … Youth today must be equipped with the proper tools, adaptive thinking processes, and skills that will be needed in our rapidly changing digital world,” he said.
Johnson even credits part of his success as an astronaut to the skills he used in Scouting and emphasizes the need to “couple traditional education with out-of-school experiences to encourage innovative, adaptive thinking, provide leadership opportunities, and give our kids the chance to problem-solve in a team environment.”
We couldn’t agree more — character and leadership skills learned in BSA programs such as Exploring and Scouts BSA help young people develop skills that facilitate the development of tomorrow’s STEM talent through experiences in innovation, problem-solving, and design thinking.
Be sure to check out the full story in U.S. News and World Report, to read what this Distinguished Eagle Scout had to say about how his experiences as a jet fighter pilot, Air Force colonel, and astronaut tie back to Scouting.