Mark Shlanta and his family are well known in Scouting circles.
Shlanta, chief executive officer of SDN Communications, is the scoutmaster of Troop 48 in Sioux Falls. He also serves as a volunteer on the Board of the Sioux Council of Boy Scouts of America, which serves the eastern two-thirds of South Dakota as well as parts of southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa.
As a youth, Shlanta earned the rank of Eagle, the highest level that a member of the Boy Scouts of America can achieve. His grandfather was among the first Eagle Scouts in the nation. In addition, two of Shlanta’s sons are Eagle Scouts and two more sons are working toward the ranking.
“Boys learn how to share responsibilities, work together, resolve conflicts, compromise when there are disagreements, and plan,” he says. “It just helps with those life experiences.”
Shlanta is among more than a dozen SDN employees who are active in leadership positions in Scouting or are active parents of Scouts.
The Sioux Council and its counterpart organization in Rapid City are among the groups that receive financial support from SDN.
“We support many organizations, largely those that our employees are active in,” Shlanta says.
The purpose of Scouting is to provide educational programs for boys and young adults to build character, train in the responsibilities of citizenship and develop personal fitness.
Tom Smotherman, scout executive for the Sioux Council, says the regional administrative organization served more than 13,000 young people last year.
- The Cub Scouts, which is affiliated with the BSA, serves boys from age 6 to 10 (first through fifth grade).
- The Boys Scouts serves boys 10 to 17.
- BSA Venturing Crews and Explorer Posts serve boys and girls of high school age with hobby and career-oriented programs.
“We could not operate the Scouting program without the local charter partners, the churches, organizations, and businesses that sponsor the units and the volunteers that work with those charter partners,” Smotherman says.
The outdoors is an important classroom for participants in Scouting programs, he says. Members hike, camp and take part in other activities. They learn about leadership and character while having fun, Smotherman says.
“We appreciate all the SDN employees and the thousands of others across the Council who make it possible for us to deliver the Scouting program to youth,” he says.
Giving back to program
Michael Kent, a software developer at SDN, is among the other SDN employees involved in Scouting. He also earned the rank of Eagle when he was a Boy Scout. Now, at 21, he is an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 152 in Sioux Falls. His father is the scoutmaster.
Kent has been an assistant scoutmaster for about three years. He helps organize adventurous outings for the troop, such as hiking, canoeing and biking trips. Last summer the troop went hiking in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming.
Kent also working to get certified so that he can teach Boy Scouts working on computer-related merit badges.
“It’s really a way for me to give back. A lot of boys, a lot of men, were great role models when I was in Scouts. It’s a way for me to pass it forward,” he says.
SDN goes about its business with the belief that being a great company starts with being a good citizen. The company and its employees give back to organizations throughout its service region with sponsorships, donations and volunteerism.
If you are interested in getting involved or have a child who would like to join, please visit the Sioux Council of Boy Scouts of America's website.