17-year-old Eagle Scout Joseph Chou of Cedar Hills, Utah, has completed what only a handful of boy scouts have ever managed to achieve – earning all 141 merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America.
“This is without a doubt extremely rare,” Boy Scouts of America Communications Director Deron Smith tells PEOPLE. “With approximately 2.4 million young people in the program, only a very few ever accomplish this.”
On Tuesday, August 25, Chou was awarded the Cedar Hills Champion award by the local mayor and city council staff during a ceremony at City Hall for his feats. His name was etched onto a plaque, he received a commemoration badge and that following Wednesday was officially deemed “Joseph Chou Day,” in the small Utah town.
Congratulatory letters have been sent to the teen by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Orrin Hatch.
“Joseph went far and beyond any regular accomplishment,” Cedar Hills Mayor Gary Gygi tells PEOPLE. “I’m so impressed with this young man. I was an Eagle Scout years ago, so I know how difficult it is to earn a badge, let alone 141.”
Chou, a senior at Utah County Academy of Sciences, became a scout six years ago when he turned 11, and within two years achieved the honored rank of Eagle Scout (which requires 21 merit badges) – but he didn t stop there.
Chou worked for four years to earn every single badge offered by the youth-development organization – some taking three hours to complete and others taking over three months.
“It’s important to be cultured about many different things, and that’s what’s so great about earning all these different badges,” Chou tells PEOPLE. “It gave me direction, now I can sound semi-intelligent in any conversation!”
Chou says this whole experience has given him insight on his future career.
“After completing the animation merit badge, I want to go into CGI (computer generated imagery),” he says excitedly. “Setting this goal for myself and accomplishing it has really changed my life. I wouldn’t be as comfortable as I now am with life right now.”