By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN The newly landscaped areas in front of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church cemetery in Lester Prairie are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also attest to the hard work and dedication of Eagle Scout Derek Litzau.
Litzau, a senior at Lester Prairie High School, earned an Eagle Scout distinction last fall, and had his official ceremony Jan. 23.
His Eagle Scout project of two flower gardens was completed in August, and this spring, the perennials will once again create a burst of color in Lester Prairie.
Since first grade, Litzau’s participation in the Boy Scouts program has provided unparalleled opportunities for character growth and life skills.
“I’ve learned about leadership and being a positive role model,” Litzau said.
Initially, Litzau was a Cub Scout in the Lester Prairie troop. Later on, he joined Christopher Greenwold’s troop in Watertown.
Greenwold is married to Litzau’s oldest sister, Kristin. Greenwold and his two brothers are also Eagle Scouts.
Litzau said he enjoyed being part of his brother-in-law’s troop, but later transferred to Winsted Boy Scout Troop 399 because it was closer to home.
Camping and cooking outdoors were highlights of scouting for Litzau.
Despite a busy schedule with pep band, jazz band, drum line, choir, Knowledge Bowl, drama, and track and field, Litzau said he never thought about quitting the troop.
“I also have a job at Arby’s [in Hutchinson] right now,” Litzau said.
Litzau said he’s heard that employers like to hire Eagle Scouts, and so far, it seems to be true.
“Two hours after I turned in my application, I got a call for an interview,” he said.
A deserved distinction
Becoming an Eagle Scout isn’t an easy task, however. Out of every 100 boys in the US, only 20 will join Boy Scouts. Out of every 100 boys who join scouting, only four will achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
Each candidate must earn 21 merit badges and successfully complete a community, church, or synagogue-related service project.
Litzau’s project took several months to complete. He got the idea when his father, Darian, was cleaning up the fence line at the cemetery.
They discovered an old cornerstone that was above the entrance to the church many years ago, before the addition.
“We cleared it off and moved it,” Litzau said. The cornerstone is the focal point in one of the gardens, and a large boulder is in the other.
Before Litzau could begin his project, he had to go to a church board meeting to present his plan and obtain approval. Then, he also received approval from the Crow River Boy Scout District Advancement Committee.
Litzau contacted local businesses and church members for donations. He also asked for volunteers from the church’s active Christian teens (ACT) group, friends, family, church board members, and a few Eagle Scouts.
The Mulch Store near St. Bonifacius donated about $260 worth of mulch, Litzau said.
“Fred Holasek at the greenhouse gave me an excellent discount on the perennials,” he added.
The project took more than 100 combined hours, but the effort was well worth it.
“I’ve gotten lots of good feedback from church members,” he said.
Litzau enjoys helping people, and someday hopes to become a teacher.
“My intention is to major in elementary education,” said Litzau, who will attend St. Cloud State University in the fall. “I also plan to double-minor in secondary social sciences and English, so that I can teach high school, too.”
Litzau has been getting a head start on his college degree this year, as a post-secondary student at Ridgewater College in Hutchinson. In addition to taking a full course load, Litzau continues to be involved in extracurricular activities at Lester Prairie High School.
After he is done with college, Litzau said he would like to continue his involvement in Boy Scouts by serving as a leader.
To learn more about Eagle Scouting, go to www.scouting.org.