Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award 2014: Nick Leonhardt

Our next award is the Jenny Kukucka 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 farther from the tragedy of that day in October 2005 and it is important we never forget.

Jenny was a new member in our crew that year who was killed in a terrible car accident 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 the crew and other Scouts have seen many times since.

This award goes to the individual who most demonstrates the spirit of giving, leading and participating in service projects throughout the year.  To help guide the decision in this award, we track service hours throughout the year.  And I want three of them – who were the top service participants this year next to our winner – to step forward at this time to receive a special Venturing patch to symbolize the work you have done for others during the year:  Austen, David and Sarah.  This, by the way, is the second year Austen has picked up a patch for service.  Thank you for all you have done.

And now I would like this year’s winner of the Public Service Award to come forward:  Nick Leonhardt.

Looking at Nick reminds me of when he first joined.  He was 14 but looked like he was a senior or older.  I had to keep reminding myself that Nick was not as old as he looked.

He became treasurer early on.  But Nick has always gravitated towards multi-tasking.  He likes to stay busy and he has in Scouting, staying active not only in our crew but also in Troop 95, where he served as Senior Patrol Leader among other offices.

He earned his Eagle Scout award with Troop 95, which was presented earlier this year.  For his Eagle project he built blue bird houses and installed them in Saluda Shoals Park.  He paid for the project by going door to door for donations.

Both David and Nick helped out with each other’s Eagle projects.  Among the other service he helped with was our annual cigarette buying project, which may sound strange but it’s a program run by the government to test underage youth access to tobacco.  It’s not easy to find teenagers willing to repeatedly go into stores asking for cigarettes, being rejected most, if not all the time.  But Nick not only helped but also found a 17-year-old classmate that was willing to help us as well.

And when it came time to help with an advanced leadership training earlier this year, he and Sarah Davis constructed a wonderful maze of chairs and obstacles that blindfolded participants had to go through to teach teamwork and communication.

When Nick isn’t helping Scouting, he’s active with marching band (he served as bugler with his troop, I believe), jobs and school.  I understand he’s quite busy this summer.

For all his service work with us this year and his many contributions to Scouting, I am proud to declare Nick our 2014 winner of the Jenny Kukucka Memorial Public Service Award.


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