Pamela Dozois

Contributing Writer


Lifelong Buellton resident Aidan Tesdahl recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout after completing his Community Service Project benefitting the Safety Town program at the Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church. The annual week-long event has been held at the Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church for more than 25 years. 

Local Boy Scout Aidan Tesdahl working on his Eagle Scout project for the SYV Presbyterian Church.
Photo contributed

Safety Town is a national safety program for kindergarten-aged children, but the event at the church is the only one in the Santa Ynez Valley. Throughout the week, children rotate through different stations learning about the basics of safety, such as memorizing their phone numbers and addresses, and learning how and when they should call 911. Daily presenters include firefighters, ambulance paramedics, California Highway Patrol officers and county Sheriff’s deputies. They reinforce the message that first responders are their friends and are there to help us. Each day, the children also practice road safety by driving pedal cars around a miniature version of the Santa Ynez Valley.

“This miniature town was the focus of Tesdahl project,” said Lis Wilson, Children’s Ministries Director for the Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church. “The wooden buildings that make up the town are as old as the program at the Presbyterian Church and in need of major repairs. When Aidan was in Kindergarten he participated in the Safety Town program, as did his sister several years later. When he was old enough, Aidan began volunteering for the event, helping the adult leaders for many years and in many ways.”

“But one of his favorite ways to help was by directing traffic and keeping order in the miniature town,” continued Wilson. “When the time came to think about the community service project that he would design, plan, and execute as part of his Eagle Scout rank requirements, it did not take long for his church and their Safety Town program to come to mind. He chose to replace all of the wooden buildings that make up Safety Town.”

Working closely with church member and mentor, Bob Fikes, he came up with an improved design that considered ease of assembly and storage, creating several prototypes along the way.

Photo contributed

Part of the Eagle Scout project requirements is that the Scout demonstrates project management and leadership skills. With help from other Scouts and family members, Tesdahl built eight new buildings for the church’s program. 

Completion of this project was one final way that Tesdahl could be involved with the event before graduating from high school and heading off to college, where he will earn his degree while working through the Army ROTC program, in hopes of continuing to serve his larger community as an officer in the United States Army.

“Safety Town would not be possible without the support of our local National Charity League,” said Wilson. “They volunteer their time all that week, leading the children through the different stations, including the miniature town. Unfortunately, due to the situation this year with COVID-19, the church has sadly had to postpone this year’s Safety Town event until next summer. However, the National Charity League girls and their mothers are still planning on supporting the program by painting all the new buildings to resemble local landmarks and businesses. If you would like the kids to drive by a miniature version of your business, sponsorships are still available.”

“Kerry Morgantini and I would like to thank Aidan for his hard work and dedication in this valuable community program,” said Wilson in conclusion.

For more information, contact Lis Wilson at 805-688-6323 or Morgantini at 805-689-3782.