Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award 2010: Tyler Johnson

Our next award is the Jenny K Memorial Public Service Award and I
want to say a few words about the award itself and why it bares this
name. For each year we move a little bit further from the tragedy of
that day in October, 2005 and it is important we never forget.

Jenny Kukucka was a new member in our crew who was killed in a
car accident along with her older brother. Their deaths so upset the
crew that the officers decided to conduct a driving safety campaign in
three schools the following year, the most ambitious service project I
have seen in 20 years in Scouting. The following year the crew produced
a video on driving safety, a video we use and share every year.

This award goes to the individual who most demonstrates the
spirit of giving, of leading and participating in service projects
throughout the year. Now to help keep track of who is doing what, we
created a spreadsheet and track everyone’s service hours each year. And
five crew members gave more than others this year. So I’d like four of
them to step forward and receive a special Venturing patch to symbolize
the work you have done for others during the year: Kristina, Lillian,
Rachel and Stuart. Thank you for all you have done.

And now I would like our winner this year to step forward: Tyler.
Tyler has been with us about two years and has served as president and
vice president of program. And he really came to the attention of the
crew with an extraordinary act two years ago during our bike trip. It
was very cold (note to officers plan future bike trips in warm weather)
and overnight rain turned to ice. Things were so bad weather wise the
night before that the dirty dishes were left in the pans. A real mess.
Cleaning dirty dishes is not something people love to do. But Sunday
morning, Tyler volunteered to scrub all the dishes, in the icy weather.

His devotion to others and to service has only grown since then.
If we are doing anything involving service, Tyler is there. And it’s not
to earn some award or win political points. It’s his personality. He’s
genuinely one of the nicest human beings I have ever met, even though he
will occasionally call people “chuckleheads” who have done something
less than competent.

All of you know he is vice president of program. Not everyone
knows why. You see, Tyler was president last year and could easily have
been re-elected. Other than Rachel, he is as intimidating a candidate
for crew office as anyone we have ever had. Because he is liked and
respected. Anyway, he was asked if he would allow Mark to run and run
for vice president instead, since Mark has band in the fall and couldn’t
run for that term. Tyler said sure.

It’s that willingness to put others’ needs first that makes Tyler
such a special leader. For some time he has volunteered to help tutor
another member of the crew and has met with him regularly. Not because
he was looking for an extra job but because he enjoys helping others.

I want to close with a story that cinched this award for him
months ago. We were on a backpacking trip – our famous lost adventure
you’ve already heard about. And as we were wandering in the wilderness
among the sandy dirt roads, I noticed that Tyler had pulled out a large
trash bag and had started putting trash in it he found alongside the
road. It bothered him, you see, to see how much trash was just lying
there. It’s a lot like the story of the starfish, where the little girl
after a storm looks out on a beach of thousands of starfish and picks up
one and then another and tosses them into the sea. And her grandfather
tells her, “You’ll never save them all.” And she replies, maybe not, but
I just saved this one, and this one…Well Tyler saw a need and went
about solving it by himself.

By the end of the hike – 14 – miles, he had collected a giant bag
filled with plastic, glass, metal and paper. It was quite heavy. And
this was in addition to his backpack. Every adult on that trip was
incredibly impressed with his trash bag, not just that he hauled it for
miles but that he did this of his own initiative. No one asked him to do
it. Tyler just saw the need.

That folks is the very spirit we want to encourage here. Doing
service for others not because you have to or because someone has told
you to do so but because you believe it’s the right thing to do. It’s
the heart of being a member of the Corps of Discovery and it’s the
foundation of the Venturing Oath.

It is for that reason that I am extraordinarily proud to declare
Tyler our 2010 recipient of the Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service


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