Eagle Scout Justin Manning (2005, Life) of Brooklyn, New York took full advantage of the leadership skills he gained in Scouting to make his mark in dual roles: A job in higher education and a competitive public announcing career.
Justin is the oldest of two Eagle Scouts in the Manning family. His brother, Brandon, achieved Eagle in 2007. Justin is also a member of Shu-Shu-Gah Lodge #24.
As first-generation Scouts, “My brother and I had no idea what Scouting entailed,” Justin said. He chuckled before adding that he and Brandon were accustomed to regular home-cooked meals. For the two brothers, Scout camp was a culture shock: no showering, no washing machine, no dinners on the table, and no sweet lemonade; instead, they learned to drink “Bug Juice.”
The experiences he gained at Scout camp were critical in fostering the life skills upon which he has built his career and his family life. Initially, Scouting was about adapting to change. Scouting taught him independence, so it was not such a culture shock when he went to college.
Justin graduated from Xavierian High School, a private Catholic School in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Hampton University, a Historically Black College in Hampton, Virginia. He then earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice within the City University of New York.
“While we were Scouts, my mother and father drove us to Ten Mile River Camp-Aquehonga every summer and spent two weeks building campfires, earning merit badges, and training for leadership. We learned the correct way to fold a flag. I still do that today when I travel professionally at race events.”
Justin continued, “When I finished in Cub Scouts, my father said, ‘Hey, let’s get you to the next phase.’ We joined Troop 510 in Brooklyn, where I’m from. Our Scoutmaster was Mr. Anthony Bracciante.”
Justin said his father, an active military reservist, believed Scouting was an important activity for his sons and strongly encouraged them to achieve their Eagle Scout rank. He had a clear view of what his sons could achieve through Scouting.
“We attended an all-boys’ high school, so I’m grateful he made that happen for us. We learned expeditiously that we had a mission to achieve Eagle Scout before our 18th birthdays, to use our skills that we learned in Cub Scouts. I’m thinking especially of the Scout Oath and the Scout Motto, ‘Be Prepared,’” Justin said. “We got that down immediately.”
Following his father’s passing, his mother presented a unique idea – the following year, the Manning family provided free Eagle Scout kits to new Eagle Scouts in Troop 510 and around the New York City area.
“Because of that and so much more, I have an obligation to pass this Scouting legacy along to my daughter, Brooklyn,” Justin said. Brooklyn Olivia Manning, a newborn, is Justin and his wife Simone Waugh’s first child.
It was through Scouting that Justin developed his interests in the fields of education and public announcing. “All the Cub Scout den leaders and Scoutmasters had backgrounds in education. Those guys spoke well and taught us well. When I speak with students, I’m demonstrating how to show respect and encouraging them to finish school on time. It’s a holistic experience that I provide for students from all that I’ve learned in my Scouting years, particularly developing character.”
Through Troop 510 of the Greater New York Council, he was selected to attend Boys State, sponsored by the American Legion. “It was a program around Leadership and Civic Responsibility in West Point, New York for under one week in 2004. You could run for office while doing military drills and learning more about the Armed Forces. We were up every morning for Color Guard at 5:00 a.m. We had to do hospital corners on our beds.”
It was at Scout camp and Boys State that Justin learned the confidence and networking needed to pursue the career he has today. He stresses, however, that every aspect of Scouting was beneficial to him as he grew into adulthood.
The decision to pursue a public announcing career came naturally. “As a student affairs professional in 2013, I felt I still had a little bit of athlete in me. I decided to do obstacle course racing (OCR). Out of the blue, a race director asked me to emcee a race. I was glad to do that. Somehow, the transition was easy, similar to what I had been doing in Scouting and with Boys State.”
Justin is an announcer for obstacle course racing and has been the voice for the world championship of OCR five years in a row. He also is an announcer for college basketball, and he announces Spartan races across the nation from Brooklyn to San Jose and Seattle.
“Now I’m an announcer for USA Boxing Metropolitan, Ringmaster’s Qualifiers Road to Madison Square Garden, the OCR World Championships and Amateur Fight Leagues.”
For Justin, the Scout Oath and points of Scout Law are a guideline for how to live one’s best life. “It is often a reminder of what we are all about as individuals. Frederick Douglass (a Harlem Renaissance Poet) and, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
He grew thoughtful before continuing. “I endeavor to embody those points of Scout Law. It helps in business, treating students and my public speaking clientele with that same respect. They know this individual represents that model of a Good Turn Daily. Having that mark of Eagle Scout helps you stand out. You’re living it. The rand of Eagle Scout is not simply a resume point.”
“I’ve always been given responsibility to grow in leadership.” Justin’s Eagle Scout project was revitalization of a garden within the historic Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. This ability to lead and juggle multiple roles is helpful in his dual careers.
“My Clark Kent role is in the Office of Admissions at a University,” he said. “The Superman side is the announcing. This is where I’m used to speaking in Scouting and to large stadium crowds of up to 12,000 people and being livestreamed.
“When I see young kids in the crowd, I acknowledge that I’m an Eagle Scout and encourage parents to get active in Scouting with their kids,” he said. “It makes all the difference.”