Casey Oyler – “Chapa” (2008)

Now normally, as you’ve seen, this honor goes to a youth graduating high school. But one of our criteria for this award is that the youth also have been an active member of Venturing for at least two years and when Casey graduated last year she was not eligible, having only been a member for a year then.

I’ve already talked some about Casey’s awesome leadership skills. But there’s a lot more to Casey that her service as an officer.

For starters there is her sense of humor, which I first enjoyed while she was vice president of program. The rest of the crew appreciates her funniness as well and sometimes I have to avoid looking at her during Council meetings because I’m afraid I will begin laughing.

This is an excerpt from an email this year to other officers in the VOA: “This next meeting is VERY important since we still need a youth to volunteer to become our VOA Secretary. We REALLY NEED THIS! AT LEAST I DO! SO I CAN STOP HAVING TO WRITE THESE MINUTES AND E-MAIL EVERYONE! Though, I don’t mind because you are all wonderful people.”

Of course one of Casey’s many gifts is as a teacher. She’s had to instruct a lot to the crew while working on her Bronze Award. And whether it’s a lesson on body language or leave no trace camping, the crew pays attention.

I also want to mention a little about Casey’s background, because those who didn’t go to Lexington High School might find some of this interesting. She served as Cadet Captain in the Lexington High JROTC program there. She also served for a year as flight commander. She participated in the JROTC Saber Team for three years and competed at the regional level on three occasions.

She was awarded the Daughters of American Revolution JROTC Award in 2005 for her leadership and service.

The daughter of retired FBI agents, Casey took three semesters of a law enforcement program at the Lexington Technology Center next to the high school and graduated with honors. For her studies there she was awarded the Doris Burkett Fellowship.

She is the recipient of several scholarships at USC, where she is majoring in Russian and dabbling in fencing.

When it came time to name Casey, my thoughts naturally turned to nature. Casey loves nature, especially its wild creatures. When we backpacked in Glacier National Park, Casey was never happier than when she found a mountain goat or marmot to follow around and photograph. She adores squirrels and has studied their different personalities on the USC campus and the Statehouse. And she’s more recently become a birdwatcher and listener and may have been the only human on our outing to Camp Barstow that would have spared the life of the Whippoorwill that sang to us all night.

Regretfully, the Indians did not see squirrels the same way as Casey, looking at them mostly as pests and thieves. So I looked for a creature that Indians revered, one that they believed had the qualities of great skill, hard work, a teacher and a creature that liked to have fun as well. And there is one animal that fits that description in Indian lore. In fact, it is credited according to Indian legend with once having powers surpassing those of humans and being responsible for teaching humans about medicine.

So it is a great honor, Casey, that tonight I award you the Sioux name Chapa for the animal the Indians saw as a teacher, a hard and skilled worker, and a playful creature with magical powers, the beaver.


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