Loyd Lyons IV says he knew he wanted his Eagle Scout service project to “make a difference” in the community.
An 11-year member of Boy Scout Troop 999, the Sylva native spent over four months leading the design and construction of a new red garden shed for the Sylva Community Garden. The garden, a nonprofit that donates fresh produce to area residents experiencing food insecurity, needed the shed to securely store its irrigation pumps and garden tools.
Lyons learned of the need for the project in early September from William Selby, scoutmaster for his troop and board member of the Great Smokies Health Foundation, which helps fund the garden through its Community Grant Program. Lyons subsequently contacted Marcus Metcalf, executive director of Helping Inspire Gifts of Hope Trust and Service, the fiscal arm for the garden. After working with HIGHTS to get a better understanding of what was expected, Lyons’ project proposal was approved by the Daniel Boone Boy Scouts of America Council. When it was time to finally start work in January, Lyons and some of his troop and community members built the shed in three days.
Lyons said he wanted to make his mentors proud. “I have done many things in Scouting, and Scouting has done so much more for me,” he tells Xpress. “I have been coached and mentored by some fine scoutmasters along the way, and each had an undying desire to encourage me and see me through to Eagle Scout. Once I found out the shed was going to be my project, I put my heart into it to make my mentors proud and do something to serve others and make a difference. That was my goal — to do something to make a difference.”
Lyons, who is a home-schooled senior, is also enrolled at Southwestern Community College, where he is working toward his associate degree in arts, as well as completing his EMT certification. He earned his aviation merit badge last December and is considering becoming a pilot.
Loyd said he will continue with Troop 999 as an adult leader, “encouraging scouts to ‘Trail the Eagle,’ and help them do what I’ve done,” he adds.
Loyd’s project has inspired his troop to continue improving the garden. The troop is installing pumps and irrigation piping, which will make it easier for gardeners to water the plants and increase yield.
This interview has been condensed for length and edited for clarity.
Xpress: How has Scouting shaped who you are?
Lyons: Scouting has shaped who I am today mainly because of everything that Scouting has to offer. You can do multiple merit badges, ranging from kayaking to camping to first aid to space exploration. There are just so many things you can do, and that’s why I like it so much. I ended up earning 52 merit badges, [21 are required for the Eagle rank]. Scouting has so many first-aid-type merit badges; and because of that, an interest was struck in me to pursue a future career in that field. One time at camp, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and was able to help rescue a Scout that had fallen and had received a life-threatening injury. I knew what to do because of what I had learned in Scouts.
I really don’t remember what it’s like not being a Scout. I do see people my age and younger that I feel Scouting would greatly benefit, maybe by keeping them out of trouble, but definitely by being a blessing to them. There are three aims of Scouting — character development, citizenship training and personal fitness. I know by heart and instinctively the Scout law, which is to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. I have given my oath to obey each of these points, and each of them has a much deeper meaning, which I believe has helped shape who I am. I’ve done things I never thought or dreamed I could do, because of Scouting.
Why is this project important to you personally?
Ever since I started “Trailing the Eagle” way back when I was a Cub Scout, I knew one day that I would be picking out a special project to do for the community that would be my Eagle service project. I learned that the Sylva Community Garden provides thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables to the Community Table and local people each year. I helped a fellow Scout with his Eagle project at the Community Table a year or so ago. So, I was a little familiar with it. I knew my shed project would be the start of something that would empower others, and that is a blessing to me — to be able to give back just a little of what I have received.
Did you encounter any challenges during the process?
The biggest challenge I think was just organizing it all. It was quite a lengthy process. I assembled a 42-page proposal to be approved by our local Boy Scouts of America Council in Asheville, my scoutmaster and also the people at the Sylva Community Garden. We did have snow one weekend as well, and we had to postpone one of the workdays. I sure learned a lot about what it takes — and kept pressing forward.
What is most rewarding about the project?
Handing the keys over to the gardeners. Knowing that our troop built something great to help the community. Seeing the smiles on the gardeners’ faces and hearing their compliments. Watching my fellow Scouts dig in and do something to make a difference in our world. Having completed something to honor the precious memory of my former Scoutmaster Steve Morse and Cubmaster Bud Boynton [to whom the shed is dedicated].
What advice would you give to young folks about achieving their goals?
Don’t quit — the only way you can lose is if you quit. Just show up, do your best and “Be Prepared.” Most importantly, always be consistent in everything you do.