For this Eagle Scout, protecting the environment comes first

To earn the distinction of Eagle Scout, 18-year-old Kaden Lynch of Riverhead combined skills he’s honed as a member of Boy Scout Troop 161 with a passion for the environment.

The result? All of Riverhead’s town beaches are now equipped with recycling stations, which hadn’t been in place before.

“I’d go to town beaches and there would be bottles everywhere,” Kaden said during a recent interview at Reeves Beach. “I saw the beige garbage cans and thought, why don’t we have something for recycling?”

After reaching out to the town’s recreation and sanitation departments, Kaden enlisted several fellow Scouts to construct the eight recycling boxes. He followed blueprints provided by the town and even matched the paint color of the existing bins before painting blue recycling logos on the sides.

The bins were installed at Wading River, Reeves, Iron Pier and South Jamesport beaches just in time for Earth Day 2021 — a year later than originally planned, due to the pandemic.

Kaden had planned a pancake fundraising breakfast to help raise money for his project late last March. Then, the pandemic put it all on pause.

Though he was left without a way to raise money, Kaden was determined to complete the project, tapping into his savings from a summer job as a lifeguard at Splish Splash to make it happen.

Despite a few setbacks, he’s happy to finally see the stations installed and being used.

“It took many, many years of work,” he said, adding that he began planning his Eagle Scout project in 2016 after reaching the second-highest rank of Life Scout in eighth grade.

For Kaden, who joined the troop as a Cub Scout when he was in second grade, reaching the rank of Eagle Scout was always a goal. In addition to his service project, he’s held leadership positions within the troop and earned more than double the amount of merit badges required. Some of his favorite badges include rifle shooting, music and rock climbing.

“My troop has had a ton of Eagles. When you go to the ceremonies and see the guys you looked up to get Eagle, you feel like you’ve got to keep it going,” he said.

Kaden, who will graduate from Riverhead High School this year, is planning to study exercise science at Ithaca College next year. He’ll join several other scouts from Troop 161 during an Eagle Scout awards ceremony in June.

Riverhead parks and recreation superintendent Raymond Coyne thanked Kaden for his project. 

“This is not only a great addition to our beaches, it is also great for the environment,” Mr. Coyne said Monday. “Kaden was a pleasure to work with and did a great job. The Eagle Scouts have always done a wonderful job beautifying our town.”