The formative skills and opportunities shared and the adventures experienced have cultivated a relatable commitment to service in OA members and alumni as the OA’s circle has widened. Therefore, many alumni are exemplars of leadership inside and outside of that ring.
New Jersey native Robert “Rob” Rodriguez is no exception to this. An Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member and Distinguished Service Award recipient, Rob currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Park Management for Hudson River Park Trust in New York City. As the Executive Vice President, he is responsible for planning, management, oversight related to the care, including the landscaped grounds and buildings, events support and logistics, IT and public safety of the Park. It is the second largest park in Manhattan and has over 17 million annual visitors.
Through the Order of the Arrow, Rob learned more about himself and his leadership capabilities throughout the programs he was offered as a youth.
“I was young and eager to serve, learn and lead others,” Rob said, reflecting on his younger self in the OA.
As a youth, he served as lodge chief, at 16 years old was elected section chief and added service on staff for regional and national events.
“It was an exciting [experience] to lead the team that delivered such an incredible event. I still rely on the lessons learned from that experience in managing large scale events today,” he added about one opportunity where he served as the Founder’s Day conference vice chief for the 2000 National Order of the Arrow Conference at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
In addition to the leadership opportunities that the OA provided Rob outside of work, it also helped him develop a love for the outdoors.
“I spent 9 summers working at Scout camps from the age of 14 through 22; including as an OA Wilderness Voyage foreman at the Northern Tier National High Adventure Base in Ely, MN. I truly appreciated my time living, learning, building friendships and working in nature,” he reminisced.
The Order of the Arrow also introduced Rob to many professional and real-world opportunities for him post-graduate.
“Scouting also introduced me to supporti[ve] adult leaders who worked in diverse occupations, including government, politics, science, natural resource management, law and engineering,” he said.
“After university, I went to work for a state government agency with the mission to preserve, develop and regulate parks and open space. Later, I transferred to the State Park Service and managed state parks, forests and historic sites. And I haven’t looked back,” Rodriguez added.
When it comes to insight and role models for the future generations of Arrowmen, Rob is not short of advice - or leaders whom he admires. Some of Rob’s role models include his Scoutmaster, President Barack Obama, President Theodore Roosevelt, Steph Curry, Lebron James - and even Woody.
“I think if you carefully look back on your experiences, you will find great examples to share with others that speak to your character and skills as a leader,” he noted.
“I often consider my Scouting memories; especially the ones that had [a] profound impact on me to remind me what I am capable of.”
Indeed, Rob is thankful for what the Order of the Arrow provided him as a youth and continues to offer as an adult.
“Scouting provides young people the opportunity to learn and exercise leadership by serving others. This is sometimes hard to understand in the moment as a young patrol leader or OA lodge officer. But if you stick with the program and take advantage of all the opportunities it affords; the leadership experiences, trainings, and friendships will establish a foundation for your future endeavors and success,” Rob remarked.
Rob’s advice to young professionals navigating today’s world?
“You will find that organizations want to hire leaders; that is, people that have been tested, trained, work well with a team, and can persevere in difficult situations; and Scouts have these traits. These are the moments that have shaped you to be a leader, worthy of joining a professional team, a company… and one day lead it,” he advocated.
Robert Rodriguez is a proud resident of New Jersey and is married with two young daughters.
The OA Alliance encourages its members to recall the practical, influential skills and experiences from their journey while learning about Rob’s with the hope that it rekindles the spark of timeless OA memories, too.