leads through business, rocketry
When Zack Hodges was 13 years old, he started his own lawn mowing business. It was during the first summer of the pandemic in 2020, and he said since he “didn’t have much else to do,” he “figured [he] might as well start.” Two years later, he began the 50 Yard Challenge, through which he mows 50 lawns for people who are veterans, elderly or disabled at no cost.
Now, as a junior at Cape Central High School, he continues his lawn mowing business, as well as his participation in the 50 Yard Challenge. He says he enjoys being able to manage his own time and work with customers directly through this entrepreneurial pursuit.
His business is only one project through which Zack demonstrates leadership in the community: He also became an Eagle Scout at age 13, working with Cape Girardeau County to build the stone Cape County Park South sign by the lake at Cape Girardeau County Park. He organized other Boy Scouts to do the labor, ensuring they had the supplies they needed and showed up at the correct time.
At school, Zach is a cadet officer in the Cape Central Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). This year, he leads the rocketry team — a position he also held last year — putting together and launching model rockets.
When he graduates from high school, Zack plans to study aerospace engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Georgia Institute of Technology or Purdue University so he can work on rockets. His long-term goal is to work at NASA or another large aerospace firm.
Zack says “just seeing the rockets themselves” fascinates him.
“These are multi-thousand ton machines just launching off at crazy speeds, and they were built by humans, and it’s just — I find that inspirational, just the fact that we can do that,” he says.
Zack is in band at school and enjoys hanging out with his friends.
“I try to do good for other people, just try to help out, things like that,” he says.
It’s something he wants adults to understand about his generation: Young people can help.
“It’s not just that we can do our work, do our schoolwork, things like that,” Zack says. “We’re capable, you know? Capable to help out.”