Andrew Stephen Baldwin earned the highest advancement award the Boy Scouts of America offers to Scouts, the Eagle Scout Award. He received the award during a ceremony held at Cowee Baptist Church on Dec. 14.
Baldwin, a senior at Franklin High School, is a member of Boy Scout Troop 202 in Franklin. He was also active in Cub Scouts during elementary school and was a member of Cullasaja’s Pack 229.
Only about four percent of all Boy Scouts nationwide attain the rank of Eagle. Each candidate must earn a minimum of 21 merit badges and successfully complete a community or church-related service project to earn Eagle.
Baldwin’s Eagle service project involved restoring an old African American cemetery, known as New Hope, he found while hiking near his home. The cemetery had been abandoned for more than 70 years. After securing the county’s authorization, he cleaned and cleared the property and had it surveyed. He and the volunteers he organized logged about 400 hours on this effort.
While researching New Hope Cemetery’s history, Baldwin met Josephine Burgess, 93, who is the last living member of New Hope Church and has several family members buried in the cemetery. She encouraged Baldwin while he worked on his project and was able to go visit the cemetery during the workday with his troop back in March.
“Being able to come back (to New Hope Cemetery) does my heart good,” Burgess said, as she walked around the cemetery for the first time in more than 60 years. Burgess was also able to attend Baldwin’s Eagle ceremony and let him know she loves him and prays for him each day.
After completing the New Hope Cemetery restoration, Baldwin gave Macon County commissioners an update on his project and formally requested that they form a Cemetery Board of Trustees to oversee New Hope and other neglected cemeteries in Macon County. The five members unanimously agreed to establish the advisory board and appointed Baldwin to serve on it. At age 17, he is the youngest member to serve on a county advisory board.
Andrew Baldwin is a member of Cowee Baptist Church and is active in the youth group and the church’s Crossover Praise Band. At FHS, he is a member of the BNaturals choir, National Honor Society, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is son of Stephen and Vicki Baldwin. His grandparents are Dennis and Lenna Holland and Jack and JoAnne Baldwin.