Wagner earns Eagle after church project

By Neal A. Johnson, UD Editor
Posted 6/5/24

LINN   — Tyler Wagner, who will be a junior at Linn High School in the fall, recently completed his Eagle Scout project to replace a sign with three crosses at Liberty Road Baptist Church …

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Wagner earns Eagle after church project


LINN  — Tyler Wagner, who will be a junior at Linn High School in the fall, recently completed his Eagle Scout project to replace a sign with three crosses at Liberty Road Baptist Church in Taos, where some of his family attends.

Originally an Eagle Scout project many years ago, the sign erected to advertise the church had been in disrepair for a while. “The sign just kind of broke, and they didn’t fix it,” said Tyler’s mother, Tammy, who was a big part of the project. “The structure remained, but they had said it really didn’t look very good for people who drive through. We have a new sign that has their name on it, so they wanted to repurpose the same location. Because it was originally an Eagle project, they liked the idea of keeping it an Eagle project, although there were church members who were very interested in doing the project. Once we heard about it, we asked if that could be something reserved for Tyler, and they saved that for us.”

Titled “A Sign of Faith,” the project follows the original, which Zac Hogan built several years ago.

Once he had the idea firmly in mind, the following action was relatively simple. “I had a lot of help from other people to give me some advice on what to do, what I needed to get, and how to get started on it,” Tyler explained.

Liberty Road Baptist Church rebranded its image a few years ago, and the new sign reflected that change. “One of the rebranding aspects was they had three crosses on all of their advertisements,” Tammy said. “They said if we could put three crosses in there and illuminate it, then when people will drive by on Hwy. 50 and see that it would be a message that works as opposed to the sign that wasn’t getting the message at all.”

The church had three crosses as their emblem and the elders told Tyler that’s what they wanted to do.

Tyler’s sister, Grace, earned her Eagle Scout after creating a map of the United States behind St. George in Linn. “Because she supported a church, we liked the idea of him giving back to the church also, so we jumped on the idea.”

In addition to his parents, Tammy and Kyle, Tyler received help from Scoutmaster Travis Greer and fellow scouts Jason Greer and Shane Greer.

Tyler joined Scouting in 2013, when he was a first-grader, after an invitation to an informal meeting.

“These years of experience in Scouting have taught me numerous lessons, talents, strengths, and weaknesses and helped me with building a sustainable foundation for my future, along with prominent and extraordinary character skills that will empower me to serve others as it is meant in the Scout Oath and Law,” Tyler wrote to the Eagle Board. “All of these things will assist me in proudly serving as an Eagle Scout as I go on and live outside of Scouting.”

He added that being a member of Scout Troop 17 taught him “to make a difference in people’s lives whenever possible, to live as an example of a good citizen, and to show others. Scouting has taught me to be friendly and kind by showing others my scouting strengths in my everyday life.”

During the pandemic, in-person meetings became restricted, which Tammy called a “huge hit to his social circle” in her letter to the Eagle Board. “This could have been the end of his Scouting as it did not look good for the program to survive such a hold on the once ever-busy calendar,” she added.

However, it wasn’t long before Tyler and his sister, Grace, participated in online Scouting and competitive campouts in the back yard, though they knew that camping nights did not count toward the rank of Eagle; still, both remained interested in being outdoors.

Tyler said the most challenging part of the project was collecting rocks nearby because there weren’t many to be found in the immediate area. Once collected, the rocks were used as a foundation for the crosses.

Tammy believes the weather was the most difficult aspect. “We would think we were going out there, then it would rain,” she noted. “We wanted to respect because we are tramping on their grounds. So we’d have to think about the weather. It just seemed like every chance we wanted to go out there, the weather kind of dampened things.”

Tyler’s athletic pursuits also slowed the project, but he was not dissuaded and completed the effort in one day.

He and his helpers only had to take down one portion of the existing sign and complete the erection of crosses and the sign. “In that day’s time, we went and picked up our supplies, went back to the site, used chainsaws and drills, and just muscle the big cross to the side,” Tammy said.

The ground was powdery, which explains why Tyler needed rocks for the foundation. “We thought about concrete but didn’t need it because the rocks held everything in place,” Tyler noted.

A concrete box was in the middle of the display, which the Wagners believe may have housed electrical components for the sign’s illumination.

Now, upon completion, the three crosses are showcased by floodlights and can be easily seen by eastbound drivers from Hwy. 50, right before the Taos exit.

“The church elders decided they wanted something eye-catching as people drove by,” Tammy said, adding there’s a special meaning to the display. “If you’re not paying attention, and just driving down the highway, and maybe having a bad day, and you maybe don’t even live in the area and you glance over and see three illuminated crosses — that could strike you if you’re faithful at all. It could be a moment just between you and God, or just an eye-opening experience that may help somebody. It could lift you up.”

Tyler is pleased to have completed the project, noting that it was the most rewarding part. “It was pretty stressful trying to get the project done because it was the final thing I needed to get Eagle,” he added. “With sports and school going on, it was kind of hard to find time to get it done.”

To attain Eagle rank, a scout must earn 21 merit badges, and Tyler earned 60. For every five merit badges earned beyond the 21 required, Scouts earned Eagle Palms; Tyler earned seven.

He earned the following merit badges: Personal Fitness, Fishing, Swimming, Chemistry, Aviation, Environmental Science, Robotics, Weather, Salesmanship, Geocaching, Wilderness Survival, Collections, Public Health, Scout Heritage, Genealogy, Citizenship in the Nation, Art, First Aid, Family Life, Archaeology, American Heritage, Communication, Entrepreneurship, American Labor, American Business, Scholarship, American Cultures, Inventing, Fingerprinting, Citizenship in the World, Animation, Mammal Study, Dog Care, Camping, Traffic Safety, Soil and Water Conservation, Climbing, Rowing, Basketry, Leather Work, Archery, Model Design, Citizenship in the Community, Personal Management, Emergency Preparedness, Chess, Welding, Search and Rescue, Cooking, Medicine, Automotive Maintenance, Energy, Canoeing, Kayaking, Woodwork, Life Saving, Home Repairs, Citizenship in the Society, Composite Materials, and Fire Safety.

Tyler also earned Order of the Arrow (OA) Ordeal and Brotherhood rank advancements. He completed the mile swim at Lake of the Ozarks twice and was accepted into and participated in the BSA NYLT-National Youth Leadership Training.

Linn High School Guidance Counselor Shannon Wolfe wrote a letter of recommendation to the Eagle Board noting that Tyler is a hard-working student and a leader among his peers. He has a 2.93 GPA and has had nearly perfect attendance during his high school career. “He takes his education seriously and has ambition to become a chiropractor in the future,” she wrote, adding that Tyler is a member of FFA, football, basketball, and track. “As a sophomore, he was chosen as the football team captain by his coaches due to his strong leadership ability.

Tyler has a service heart,” she added. “He is not someone who often takes the spotlight for helping others, but it is seen throughout the various activities he is involved in. From his involvement in FFA and Boy Scouts to the classroom, or the field, court, and track, Tyler is someone who can be counted on when a need arises.”

Wolfe told the Eagle Board she believes Tyler is well-suited for the Eagle Scout rank. “I am confident that he will continue to excel and make a significant impact in the world,” she noted. “He is a promising and dedicated individual who has the potential to achieve great things, and I wholeheartedly endorse his application.”

Casper’s 66 owner Tim Thoenen, in his letter of recommendation, said that Tyler has grown as an employee. “He is always ready to take on a challenge and is very willing to follow instructions as well as go above and beyond the normal duties given to him,” Thoenen wrote. “Tyler also has great character and moral values and is very respectful to clients of all ages. I highly recommend Tyler Wagner for the attainment of Eagle Scout.”

Finishing his Eagle Scout project was important to Tyler because “I knew it would be a pretty big accomplishment in my life, and I could get that done,” he added.

“This was a huge undertaking that he and I are thrilled to say was accomplished,” Tammy added. “It has been referenced and complimented often since its completion by family, church members, and friends who have driven by it.”

Tyler’s Eagle rank is the second attained in his immediate family. There doesn’t seem to be a record of any other Wagner in his ancestry achieving that level in Scouting. “We’ve looked back and talked about it, and Grace and Tyler are the first,” Tammy noted. “Hopefully, they’re the first of more to come.”