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Eagle Scout project collects kids DNA
Eagle Scout “elect” Quinn McMurtrey, 14, seen with his parents, Eric and April. His dad is also the scout master of Ripon Troop 440 sponsored by the Church of Latter Day Saints in Ripon. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin
RIPON — Eagle Scout candidate Quinn McMurtrey, 14, put together a program with the help of the Polly Klaas Foundation to collect DNA samples for families for possible emergency use in locating lost children.

McMurtrey, with the help of fellow scouts in Troop 440, along with a handful of adults, organized a DNA collection operation at the Ripon Community Center.  It was done during the National Night Out in the fall, and drew some 100 children and their parents.

Cotton stick swabs were used to collect saliva from the children’s mouths that were placed in cardboard containers to be kept permanently in home freezers by parents.  A “Child Safety Kit” supplied by the Polly Klaas Foundation was used to record other data on the individual children, including finger prints, if they wished.

The kits also contained additional information warning parents of what to watch for in safeguarding their children.  The small books were then given to the parents to keep as life-long records of their children’s identity.

Quinn also won the “Iron Man” certification in a recent high adventure program at Camp John Mensinger in the Sierras.

It was a competition that spanned four days and consisted of packing six miles by canoe – 14 miles hiking, swimming, and nine miles on mountain bikes over rugged mountain wilderness terrain.

Quinn, a high school freshman, said he wouldn’t be as much of a leader as he is today without that experience.

 “I got to learn a lot of things – it helped me realize that people are there to help you – you have to be there to help them too,” he said.

Of the project, he said he and his mother went online to look for something that would make children safer in today’s world and that led to the Polly Klaas Foundation DNA collection idea.  Funding help for the project came from Wal-Mart, Staples, he said, which included printing of coloring book pages for the smaller children.

Quinn said the 32 scouts and 10 advisors he had marshaled into service.

The Scout troop is sponsored by the Church of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Ripon. The unit has nine other scouts who will soon be receiving their Eagle Scout rank at an upcoming Court of Honor.

Quinn has a younger brother who is also working toward being an Eagle Scout.  Quinn starts his day at 6:15 every morning attending chapel, or seminary, learning more about his religion.  God and Country are foremost in scouting.

A scout is trained in character following such tenets as being:  trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent – lofty heights to reach for in today’s world.