Woodbury native Matthew Korf is off to do great things. The Saint Thomas Academy graduate and U.S. Naval Academy freshman was recently named the 2022 Minnesota Eagle Scout of the Year for his spirit of service and dedication to community.
“Volunteering has always been a big part of my life, and it’s become who I am today,” Korf says. “When you do something good that brings a smile to someone’s face or you make their day better, that feels good … just knowing you’ve given your all.”
It was Korf's service project at Saint Ambrose Catholic Community that led to him earning the rank of Eagle Scout in June 2021.
“I chose to do my project at Saint Ambrose because I had gone there since I was 3 months old, and I just wanted to be able to give back something to the community,” Korf says.
The administrators’ desire for a community garden stood out to Korf right away. He met with a landscape designer at Warner’s Outdoor Solutions, collected materials from Gertens and Home Depot, and organized volunteers. The final product—a raised vegetable garden, measuring about 384 square feet—required a “lot of dirt,” Korf says. Dirt that will nourish a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program and offer horticulture therapy to students with ADHD.
Mark Korf says what his son has achieved at a young age is “not a surprise,” reflecting on a family Boundary Waters trip when a 9-year-old Matthew decided to carry the food pack over an 80-rod portage.
“The pack was almost as tall as Matthew, but he was insistent … he finished that portage with a smile on his face,” Mark says “When I look back, that was just an indicator of the will and determination that he has to accomplish whatever he sets his mind to. We’re truly proud of the young man he has become.”
During his time at Saint Thomas Academy, an all-male Catholic military academy in Mendota Heights, Korf says he most enjoyed the feeling of “brotherhood” with fellow students and his time participating in baseball, cross-country and as captain of the swim team. “His servant leadership style and his impeccable integrity are what we should all strive to achieve upon graduating from high school,” says Neil Hetherington, Saint Thomas Academy commandant of cadets and retired U.S. Army colonel. “Matthew's accomplishments while at Saint Thomas Academy are too numerous to mention here, but I can tell you that he is the type of young man we want all of our future generations to emulate.”
After receiving multiple college offers—a full-ride Naval ROTC scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, acceptance to Vanderbilt University and an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy—Korf chose the latter. He’s currently interested in studying mathematics, economics and engineering, and upon graduation will continue his passion for service as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.
Korf says, “[Joining the military] isn’t necessarily going to be the easiest route, but I think that in the end it will be what’s best for me. It will help me get where I want to be and just be a better person.”
Mark says the U.S. Naval Academy will strengthen his son’s leadership skills, and he’s looking forward to seeing what’s in store for his future.
“Matthew is extremely dedicated. He has a strong sense of service and a great deal of empathy for those around him. He gives 110 percent to whatever he does, and, as a result, we’re extremely proud of what he’s done,” Mark says. “We truly believe his uniqueness is his gift to the world, and we’re excited to see what he does in the years to come.”