When Luke Hauersperger joined Boy Scout Troop 529 in seventh grade, his mother, Maria, asked if he wanted to be an Eagle Scout someday.
He said he initially didn’t understand the program and what it took or meant to earn the Boy Scouts’ highest rank.
“Then eventually, I started realizing this is actually pretty cool,” he said of being in Boy Scouts. “I started picking it up, getting second class, first class, and then star, and I’m life now.”
The 16-year-old Seymour High School junior decided to combine two of his passions — Boy Scouts and running — for his Eagle Scout project.
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With help and encouragement from Healthy Jackson County and support from Seymour city officials, Luke received a nearly $2,600 grant to place two benches on a concrete pad and add kilometer and mileage signs along the cross-country course at the Freeman Field Sports Complex on the south side of the city.
A few of his fellow Scouts helped build the concrete pad and put the benches in place, and his cross-country teammates will help with the signs once those are done.
Luke said he got a lot out of being the leader of the project.
“Eagle Scout is about helping other people. It’s not really about myself. I needed to get something that would help more,” he said.
“It’s really cool because when you’re just planning it out, you don’t get to see anything. Nothing is finished, and everything is subject to change,” he said. “We didn’t know how big the posts would need to be. We didn’t know anything like that. Then all of that, we needed to decide, and once we did, we just started going with it.”
Having participated in cross-country since sixth grade, Luke is familiar with the course at Freeman Field and knew the city continues to improve it.
When he met with the Healthy Jackson County committee, someone talked about how people walking or running on the trail may get tired but have no place to sit.
“We saw it was in the plans, so we might as well speed it up,” Luke said. “At other courses, they have benches, and they have the signs so you know how far you just ran, and it’s really hard to pace when you have no clue how far you just ran. They are thinking about having more races here, so it would be really nice if you could see how far you ran.”
Luke filled out his Eagle Scout project proposal and submitted it to the district coordinator, Dale Siefker.
“I was impressed that when he submitted it, a lot of times, the coordinator will bounce it back and say, ‘You need to fix this and that.’ He was able to submit it one time,” Maria said.
“He gave me input, and he was like, ‘I think this is going to be an amazing project,’” Luke said of Siefker.
Luke also had the support of his troop and the city.
“They thought it was going to be a really good project because it’s obviously going to take a lot of work,” he said. “Some projects don’t take as much, but this is going to take a lot of man hours.”
He appreciated Healthy Jackson County guiding him through the grant-writing process, too.
“They were a lot of help,” Luke said. “We went to a meeting, and they really helped me fill it out.”
His parents also were at that meeting.
“It’s his project, so I sat at another bench when they met. I couldn’t say a word. He handled it well,” said his father, Len.
“I was so impressed when he met with the group to get the grant,” Maria said. “I just listened and didn’t have to do anything. He just took the lead and was very impressive. He’s a very strong leader, and he can attribute that to Scouting. He’s gone through the National Youth Leadership Training. He’s nationally certified as a leader, and he has done church leadership training.”
Len, who has 26 years of experience as a remodeler, worked with Luke to draw up blueprints for the concrete pad. They made it big enough to allow for room for two benches and a commons area at the point to place Luke’s Eagle Scout plaque.
He is appreciative of Lee’s Ready Mix in Seymour for waiving the concrete delivery fee once the company learned it was for his Eagle Scout project.
“It’s good to save that because we can spend it on a tree or buy something else with it,” he said.
The steel benches were made by Crane Hill Machine and Fabrication Inc. between Seymour and Brownstown. They are powder coated in black, and the middle of the backrest has a circular emblem with a train in the center, “Seymour” below it and “1852” above it to represent the year the city was founded. The same benches can be found in downtown Seymour.
Jim Noelker of Westwood Sign Co. is making the nine kilometer and mileage signs to be placed on wooden posts.
“Both he and I agreed the cross-country boys could jump in on that part,” Len said of putting the signs up. “This will help the boys know where the five kilometers are because they are going to know when they are racing. Then they can tell other people and teammates and other coaches. When they are doing the lap where they show where the course is, they can explain.”
Seymour High School boys cross-country coach Randy Fife is working with Schneider Nursery Inc. to get a couple of trees planted near the benches and also near other areas of the course.
“They’ve been working with them for about a year to get trees in here, and I think they’ll take off and run with it,” Len said.
The city wants more benches along the course, and Luke said that would be a good Eagle Scout project for other Boy Scouts.
“When I was first thinking about what my idea would be, I was talking to my mom about it, and I was like, ‘The first thing I want to do is have something that other people can add on to with their projects,’” Luke said. “I can do these, and then someone else can add benches somewhere else and just keep working in the same area.”
The Scouts who helped Luke with the project also take a lot of pride in it.
That includes brothers Kyler Leslie and Kerrick Leslie.
“It definitely helps doing this because if I end up doing something that has to have all of this, I’ll have that experience in the past, and I’ll know how to do it,” Kyler said.
“Since we’ve helped other people, they’ll be willing to help us,” Kerrick said.
Maria said she liked seeing the Scouts come together to help Luke.
“I feel like when people feel frustration with young people or they are concerned about the future generation, I think they just spend a few minutes with the Scouts and you see that the future is in good hands,” she said.
When Luke is at the course this season and in the future, he will be able to see his work benefiting others.
“I could come back and be like, ‘I helped with that’ and feel really good about it, and all of the people that helped me, they can come back and they’ll see people sitting out here and be like, ‘I was a part of that,’” he said. “I think it will be amazing.”