by Ilene Denton
Ellis, 34, who grew up in Jupiter, joined Cub Scouts at age 7, and earned his Eagle Scout rank at age 12. It’s a family tradition. His grandfather was a Scout in England before World War II, his father was his Scoutmaster, and his younger brother is also an Eagle Scout.
Ellis was elected years ago to membership in the Order of the Arrow, the national honor society of Scouting, and through it, he has participated in such large-scale national service projects as helping build 30 miles of mountain biking trails in the Teton National Forest in Wyoming and in the New River Gorge Forest in West Virginia. This summer he will teach classes on conservation projects at the National Order of the Arrow Conference at Michigan State University, which some 14,000 Scouts are expected to attend.
“The Order of the Arrow, especially since 2006, has really started focusing on large-scale conservation projects, and I like being part of that,” says Ellis. “Our country hasn’t had organizations that are shouldering conservation work since the CCC.”
His most life-changing Scouting experience, Ellis says, was his first 14-day canoe and overland wilderness trek in the Northern Tier High Adventure program in the pristine Land of 10,000 Lakes on the Minnesota-Canada border. The grueling physical and mental challenge encouraged him to be a leader. “I came off the water a different person,” he says. He now returns to Minnesota most summers to train the program’s trail-building staff.
“A big part of it is giving back to the program that forged a big part of who I am,” says Ellis. “Obviously Scouting is doing something right. It put me where I am today, and it did the same for many of my peers. A lot of the people I was in Scouting with are attorneys, judges, mayors of their towns; there are a few senators, older than me, who shaped my Scouting career.”
Besides his practice in land use and zoning, construction, governmental liability, commercial and general civil litigation and appeals, Ellis will administer Icard Merrill’s pro bono guardian ad litem program. ■