SOUTH PLAINFIELD - Stevens Institute of Technology Freshman Wyatt Gerber has become the 51st Eagle Scout of Boy Scout Troop 309. Gerber’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held on Jan. 11 at Wesley Church in South Plainfield where he was awarded the honored rank of Eagle Scout.
“I feel ecstatic to have achieved the rank of Eagle,” said Gerber. “I’m very thankful for everything and this is a huge moment. I’m just very proud to have gotten to this point because Eagle Scout is a lifetime award. It’s not like a trophy that’s going to sit on your shelf or go in your closet. It’s something that you carry for the rest of your life.”
“I’m very proud of him,” said Mindy Gerber, Wyatt Gerber’s mother. “He really is a good leader. I’m filled with pride and it’s well-deserved. He worked really hard. I’m very honored to be here and thankful for everyone. Almost everybody in the room had an impact on him, and he took that all and is using it for his life. I think that’s wonderful.”
Gerber’s grandfather, Richard Goyette, was the scoutmaster of Troop 309 for 17 years. Goyette passed away in 2009, but he had great impact on the troop in the years since he served as scoutmaster.
“I was very touched and it meant a lot for me to be able to be here for this,” Gerber’s grandmother,Venise Goyette said. “I have always been very proud of Wyatt and all that he has achieved and will be able to achieve in his future. I can see him doing great things for the community and for the world.”
“It was an honor for me to be here,” said Minister Therese Lamontagne, Gerber’s cousin. “I always heard my uncle (former scoutmaster Richard Goyette) talk about the Boy Scouts and how important it was to him. It’s very emotional to see Wyatt come through and achieve the highest award.”
Troop 309 Scoutmaster Jeff Pauls welcomed everyone to the Eagle Scout Court of Honor.
“Many scouts set out on the trail to Eagle, but few have the perseverance to follow it to the end,” said Pauls. “Wyatt Gerber is one of those few, and we are here today to honor his great achievement. The wearer of the Eagle award is the epitome of scouting’s best efforts and beliefs. Wyatt Ryder Gerber has become the 51st Eagle Scout of Troop 309.”
The ceremony opened as the scouts of Troop 309 filed in carrying the American Flag. After the Pledge of Allegiance, they rose their hands in the scout salute to recite their oath. It was then that Pauls announced Gerber as the 51st Eagle Scout, and he was escorted into the room by his parents, Michael Goyette and Mindy Gerber. As Wyatt Gerber made his way to the front of the room, family, friends, local dignitaries, civil organization representatives, scouts and the families of scouts, stood and applauded.
Lamontagne opened the service with an invocation, asking for Wyatt to be blessed as well as the scouts and scout leaders.
“Today we celebrate the accumulated efforts Wyatt has learned over the years to advance in scouting,” said Lamontagne. “We think of all the merit badges he earned along the way, the oaths he learned, the character he developed, and his service to our community and fellow scouts.”
Pauls explained how the occasion had special meaning because of Gerber’s relationship with a scoutmaster who had a very special impact on Pauls, who is the current scoutmaster.
“This is a special occasion for me as well as I am honored to bestow upon Wyatt, who is the grandson of Richard 'Mr. G.' Goyette, the rank of Eagle Scout,” said Pauls. “Mr. G. was a scoutmaster here at Troop 309, logging in 17 years of time and service to our troop.”
“Sadly, we lost Mr. G, and he is not able to see his grandson achieve this great achievement, but I feel that through us, as a troop, as a family and as friends, he is here in spirit and is very proud of Wyatt’s accomplishments,” added Pauls.
Gerber grew up in South Plainfield and was very athletic, excelling in baseball and soccer clubs throughout his childhood. He attended South Plainfield High School and lettered in Cross Country, Spring Track, Winter Track and Tennis. He was also a member of the Ski Club and Model UN. Gerber graduated as a member of the Honors Society and is currently a freshman at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, majoring in Civil Engineering, and aspires to master in Structural Engineering. He hopes to travel the world and make a true difference.
Gerber began his journey in Boy Scouts as a Tiger Cub with Pack 29 and went on to become a Boy Scout with Troop 207, joining Troop 309 in 2017 and becoming part of the troop that his grandfather joyfully devoted almost two decades of his life to. Gerber earned 29 merit badges while working his way to Eagle Scout.
A major undertaking and requirement for all scouts to become Eagle Scout is the Eagle Scout project. Gerber chose to completely restore the 21 flowerbeds in the 18,000 square-foot Henry S. Chatfield Memorial Garden in Roselle, New Jersey. The project took over a month and entailed 371 man-hours to complete. First weeding each flowerbed by hand and tools, then edging with landscaping spades, Wyatt and his crew carefully attended each bed. Once edged, grass and weeds were placed in wheelbarrows and topsoil was raked into each of them. Herbicide was sprayed into the beds to prevent weeds from sprouting to preserve the plants.
Gerber carefully orchestrated the endeavor, instructing the 59 volunteers participating in the project to use pitchforks to put mulch into the wheelbarrows to be placed into the flowerbeds. The plants and flowers now can bloom easier and stay alive longer than before.
“On behalf of Patriots Path Council, Boy Scouts of America, and with the high hope that you will always represent the finest of character and citizenship, we welcome you to the Eagle rank and congratulate you, your parents and your troop leaders,” said Pauls.
Throughout the ceremony, Gerber’s mother and father sat beside him. His father, Michael Goyette, is a veteran of the US Air Force and former member of the New Jersey State Police. He now works for Hackensack Meridian Health Care as a Systems Architect. His mother, Mindy Gerber, is a rehabilitation supervisor and speech pathologist at JFK Medical Center, Johnson Rehabilitation Institute Center for Brain Injuries as well as the Grant School PTO President and member of South Plainfield’s Cultural Arts Commission.
Gerber’s twin 12-year-old siblings, Delaney, who is a member of Girl Scouts Cadet Troop 65029, and Beckett, who is a new Boy Scout member of Troop 309, sat proudly watching their brother receive the greatest honor in scouts.
Troop 309 has a tradition of presenting the scout’s mother with a rose for every rank they achieved. For each rank, a member of the troop presented Mindy Gerber with a red rose. The final rose was given to her by her son, Wyatt Gerber.
Nancy Pauls, Troop 309 Advancement Chair, verified Gerber’s advancement record while troop members presented the flowers to his mother. Pauls recounted dates Gerber attained his ranks as well as when he achieved the merit badges he received while on his way to Eagle Scout. Beginning with the rank of Scout on May 10, 2012, Gerber reached the rank of Tenderfoot on Mar. 14, 2013, Second Class on April 24, 2014, First Class on Nov. 20, 2014, Star on Jan. 14, 2016, Life on Sept. 29, 2016 and Eagle Scout on Aug. 14, 2019. Gerber positioned himself as a leader in the troop and held the positions of Senior Patrol Leader and Quartermaster.
Several letters were read from the leaders of Patriot’s Path and many others of national influence. Assistant scoutmasters had the opportunity to congratulate Gerber.
“I need to congratulate the family on all your hard work helping him get to this point,” said Pete Rachwal. “And I’d like to thank Wyatt. It’s so rewarding to see such a fine, young individual come through our program. I’ve seen you make a difference already in many of your contemporaries’ lives.”
A longstanding tradition of Troop 309 was the presentation of pins.
“Wyatt, place this mother’s pin over your mother’s heart in recognition of the love, encouragement, faith and trust in your future,” said Pauls as Gerber pinned the emblem on his mother’s dress.
“Wyatt, in recognition of the wisdom and guidance given to you by your father, you present him with the father’s pin, which he will be proud to wear in your honor,” said Pauls as Gerber placed the pin on his father’s shirt.
Gerber also earned a bronze palm for achieving five additional merit badges beyond the requirements for Eagle Scout. Pauls congratulated Gerber for his accomplishment of becoming an Eagle Scout. Gerber then had the opportunity to honor his mentor as he was asked to present the traditional Mentorship Pin to someone who had made an impact on his trail to Eagle.
“I just want to say to all the scouts that are here,” Gerber said. “Keep going on the path you are going on now and don’t forget to ask for help along the way. If there’s anything I’ve learned from achieving Eagle it’s that you can’t do it all by yourself. I’ve done this with the help of everyone here. I want to thank everyone who showed up today. Each one of you has had some kind of impact on my life for me getting this rank. I’m so thankful that I have everyone here.”
“The person I chose has been there the entire way,” Gerber said. “They’ve always been there for me. They have pretty much been my motivation the entire time for me to get this rank. I’ve always wanted to be better than them, for lack of a better work, and I want to give the Mentorship Pin to my dad.”
Gerber then pinned the Mentorship Pin on his father’s shirt.
Jeff Pauls explained how the late Richard Goyette and Tony Sarao greatly influenced him and made him into the scoutmaster he is today. Pauls called Venise Goyette, Wyatt’s grandmother, and Serrao up to the podium to accept a Mentorship Pin from him, expressing his gratitude for all that he learned from the iconic scouting figures.
“Thank you very much, it’s been a great ride, a great pleasure!” Venise Goyette said.
Eagle Scout and former scoutmaster Ron Schroeder and 50th Eagle Scout in the troop, Liam Glynn, were called up to hand down the Troop 309 patch. The patch has been passed down to every Eagle Scout since Ron Price received it in 1976.
“This is a wonderful day of celebration,” Schroeder said. “This man before us comes from Troop 309 royalty. His grandfather was a beloved scoutmaster here for a total of about 17 years. We lost him about ten years ago last month…He was loved, not only by this troop, but by this church.”
Even though Goyette attended the Catholic Church, Welsey Methodist Church erected a small memorial for him because he was so loved by the church and everyone who knew him. After the presentation of the patch, Gerber received his Eagle Scout neckerchief as presented by Kyle Griswold, current Senior Patrol Leader, and received congratulations from all the Eagles Scouts in Troop 309.
Assistant Scoutmaster Scott Waters introduced the dignitaries who had come to the event to present several awards.
“I want to say congratulations,” Waters said. “I met Wyatt in 2017 when he joined our troop and I knew his grandfather as well…I said to myself, if he’s anything like his grandfather, he’s going to be incredible and look at his achievement.”
Mayor Matthew Anesh, Councilman Derryck White and Councilman Joseph Wolak were the first to be called to the podium.
Anesh congratulated Gerber on his accomplishments and explained how Gerber was on his way to being a Civil Engineer because he shared many qualities professionals in the field.
“Civil engineers are very smart,” Anesh said. “They like to plan a lot and execute well. Judging by your project, that’s a similarity. They like to be amongst people and work in groups. They’re detail oriented, task oriented. They set a goal and get things done. Everything in town, in our infrastructure, is led by a civil engineer, just like your Eagle project. It’s done as a team though, not only working with other engineers, but working with municipal government and you have shown that over the years and with your project.”
Anesh read a proclamation in recognition for Gerber’s accomplishment and wished him continued success in the future.
“…Whereas, as a result of Wyatt’s confidence and dedication to excellence, Wyatt has brought honor and pride to his family, his community and scouting,” said Anesh.
White presented Gerber with a South Plainfield lapel pin with the South Plainfield Borough Seal, noting that the pin of South Plainfield represents strength and recognition, serving as a reminder that the South Plainfield governing body and community stands with him where ever he goes.
“When Wyatt was small, I coached him in soccer,” White said. “Even at that young age, I realized the potential that you had. You had a desire and a thirst to excel and be the very best at whatever you put your hands to and your mind to.”
“Everything that your parents poured into you has given you the strength and the fuel to one up them and do better and achieve your goal of making the world better,” White said. “When you travel, you’ll probably take conventional transportation, but as you change the world, your fuel for your transportation will be the values that scouting, your family and the community at large have poured into you. Know that we are always behind you.”
Representing the Flint and Steel Association, Tony Sarao presented Gerber with a certificate. Sarao has been in scouts for 74 years and was very close with Goyette.
“It gives me great pleasure to present you the certificate from the Flint and Steel Association, a small group of men who have given service to scouting for over 50 years or more,” said Sarao. “Mr. G. was my best friend. He helped me when my wife was sick and he taught me how to do the Court of Honors ceremonies.”
Elks Lodge 2298 Bill Seesselberg, Youth Activities Chair of the South Plainfield Elks, presented Gerber with a certificate and the American Flag.
“On behalf of the Elks, we take pride in presenting to Wyatt an American flag because you have demonstrated that you practice democracy daily,” said Seesselberg. “We are proud to call you our fellow citizen because you have worked hard to prove that you believe in the United States as one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. As the red, white and blue blend to make a beautiful flag, so the skills you’ve mastered blend together to make you an outstanding citizen.”
Commander Joe Penyak presented Gerber with a good citizen citation and $50 check on behalf of the South Plainfield American Legion.
“The 21 flowerbeds for your Eagle Scout project look great,” Penyak said. “I’m also an Eagle Scout and the things I acquired in scouting, I kept with me all of my life. Congratulations, and I wish you continued success in all of your endeavors.”
Speaking on behalf of Knights of Columbus Council 6203 was Joe Wilkowski, Grand Knight, who presented Gerber with a certificate from the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council.
“On behalf of the Knight of Columbus, I want to show appreciation for your parents for all the hard work that they did as well as all the scoutmasters and assistant scoutmasters, patrol leaders and your fellow scouts,” said Wilkowski. “On behalf of the Knights of Columbus, the Supreme Council congratulates Wyatt Gerber on the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.”
Gerber had been a member of Boy Scout Troop 207 before transferring to Troop 309, and Waters called up his former scoutmaster John Mocharski to say a few words.
“Wyatt, I’m really glad that you were able to attain the rank of Eagle because most never make that final spot,” Mocharski said. “You always had that leadership quality within you where you could take charge of things and move on. It doesn’t surprise me that you made it and it’s an honor to be here today.”
“It does take a village to raise people, and Wyatt, you were such a positive influence on this troop when you came over,” said Waters, taking a moment to reflect. “It was almost immediate we saw the leadership skills and what you did for the kids. The kids loved you. The younger boys always went to you and asked for help. That shows you did something right. Congratulations to the parents and the scout.”
Gerber then had the opportunity to speak, thanking everyone who attended the ceremony. He also thanked the scouts for attending and those who had been with him year after year and had an impact on his life. He also thanked all the dignitaries and civic organizations as well as his former scoutmaster.
“For the scouts here, please consider going for Eagle Scout because it is a huge honor,” said Gerber. “No other award that I can think of compares to the Eagle Scout for Boy Scouts. It is such a huge award. It culminates your physical achievements, your emotional achievements, your capabilities that you’ve done as a mentor and a leader. It really embodies everything that your work for in scouting.”
Several Scouts spoke to express their pride in their friend and fellow scout.
“I want to congratulate you on the amount of leadership that it took to run your project,” said Eagle Scout Ryan Carey. “You demonstrated such leadership and organization. That project took so long. We started on April 20th and ended in June. I’m really proud of you and thank you for rubbing off on me and teaching me something about myself as well.”
Eagle Scout Drew Rachwal shared stories about his time with Gerber during Cross Country and Model United Nations, recounting how much Gerber demonstrated leadership skills and was always encouraging.
“I have to thank Wyatt for always being there,” said Rachwal. “He was there at every meeting. He would always volunteer to help even when not a lot of other people would…Thank you so much, Wyatt, for everything you’ve done for me.”
“Wyatt took me under his wing and really showed me how to be a great leader,” said Eagle Scout Kyle Griswold. “He was a great mentor. He was really good at what he did. He was such a presence in the troop, just a fun person to be around. All in all, Wyatt’s a great kid, a great leader and a great mentor.”
Gerber’s father also took a moment to speak about his son.
“I was so proud when he achieved Eagle because we all want our kids to be better than us,” Goyette said. “He has proven time and time again, and even more so now, that he can achieve amazing things. I’d like to think we did a good job as parents, but I’d like to thank everyone because everyone has had a little bit of inspiration to give him…Wyatt, you really do make us proud every day.”
The ceremony came to a close with a benediction prayer by Gerber’s cousin.
“Wyatt, I know you’ll soar,” said Lamontagne. “May God’s breath fill your wings and carry you to your destiny. May you continue to grow in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and man. May you keep yourself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. May you lead by influence and not by title alone. May you lead with that delicate mix of humility, strength, example and force. And may the great master of all scouts be with us until we meet again.”
Everyone enjoyed a reception of food and dessert, reflecting on the ceremony.
“I think that it was very touching to hear the great honors, and the tributes to his grandfather,” Mindy Gerber said. “There’s not a lot of things in life that are passed down like that, from grandfather to father to son. Service organizations build character are so good and I’m very proud of my son.”
“It was wonderful how nicely everybody talked about Wyatt,” said Lamontagne. “I remember him as being little with super high energy, very inquisitive, smart as all get out. It was an honor for me to be here to see and hear everyone speak so highly he’s become and to know the young man that he’s grown into. It’s amazing to see him and I know he is going to soar without a doubt.”
“I have been to many, many Eagle ceremonies, but this one was a very touching ceremony,” Venise Goyette said. “To see all these people come out and speak so highly of him really sends chills down my spine. I think his mom and dad have really done a very good job. His grandfather would have been so proud too.”
“To see all of Wyatt’s hard work culminate into this huge award and to hear people say such wonderful things about him, and to recognize all the things that he’s done and how hard he’s worked, it’s been really wonderful,” said Aimee Goyette, Gerber’s aunt. “It’s been special for our whole family.”
Becoming an Eagle Scout creates a lifelong bond with other Eagle Scouts as all have the common ground of achieving something so difficult and challenging, but so rewarding.
“I’m now in college and sometimes I’ll see people, and we’ll talk about how we are both Eagle Scouts and how we’re both in scouting,” said Gerber. “You even meet older people and it doesn’t matter the age difference. If you’re a scout, you’re like a brother, so I’m so happy to have gotten Eagle Scout. It’s going to be something that I’m going to embody for the rest of my life. I am extremely grateful and hopeful about the future.”