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Bringing new life to old church yard

Teen taps talent in his family tree for Eagle Scout landscaping project

June 30, 2008

BY KAREN GOVEIA Special to the Beacon News

AURORA -- When 17-year-old Kyle Meyers heard that a small church in Aurora needed help with a landscaping project, he knew he'd be a perfect match for the job.

Having served as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout for most of his life, Meyers took on the service project in hopes of receiving the highest rank of the Boy Scouts of America -- Eagle Scout. The Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project provides an opportunity for a Boy Scout to demonstrate leadership skills while performing a project for the benefit of a community, religious institution or school.

After exploring several possible community service projects, the Naperville teen heard about the Aurora church's needs for a beautification project and was immediately drawn to it.

He also had the right resources for the job. Meyers' grandfather, Anthony Tyznik of Batavia, is the renowned landscape architect of 40 years at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

Together, Kyle and his grandfather developed an architectural landscape plan for the grounds at St. John United Church of Christ in Aurora, which includes an array of more than 500 perennials, shrubs and trees encompassing a bricked patio meditation area with benches.

The garden has gone far beyond the expectations of Pastor Cyndi Gavin, who said prior to the improvements much of the landscaping on the grounds of the church -- which was built in 1887 -- looked tired and was in need of attention.

"Kyle has done such an incredible job from the early planning stages to the project's completion," Gavin said. "The culmination of this project exhibits a deep connection between the planting of seeds, the nurturing process, and the engagement of creation and our church being alive."

For Meyers, who will be a senior this fall at Naperville Central High School, its meaning is much more than attaining the Eagle Scout honor.

"I feel as though I've really been able to make a difference at a church whose congregation is small and mainly consists of elderly people," he said. "I was fortunate enough to be able to bring the necessary resources and manpower along with me."

The community has been very responsive to the project, said Meyers. Donations of mulch and brick pavers were made by the city of Aurora and area businesses, as well as plants from the Planter's Palette in Winfield. Meyers and a group of about 15 volunteers, including Scouts, parents and church members, were able to complete the project during one weekend in June.

Tyznik said of his grandson, "He is a dedicated young man who has helped make a meaningful enhancement to the community."

Gavin said the garden will serve as a gathering place for parishioners and visitors, and will be a wonderful place to host many church programs and workshops.

"Our parish is moving in the direction of becoming a mission-focused church, and through our outreach programs we are looking to engage people into the meaning of life," Gavin said.

St. John United Church of Christ

309 Fifth Street
Aurora, IL 60505


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