National Council Judging Criteria

For Hornaday Awards conferred by the National Council, Boy Scouts of America, these are the major criteria used in judging. Also see “How Applications Are Judged.” (BSA local councils hold applicants for the Hornaday unit award, badge, and adult Scouter gold badge to similarly high standards.)

Youth Applications—Bronze and Silver Medals

Merit Badge/Venturing Requirements

  • If a Boy Scout/Varsity Scout, has the applicant earned the merit badges required for a
    • bronze medal?
    • silver medal?
    • If a Venturer, has the applicant completed the ecology and plant and wildlife requirements for the Venturing Ranger Award?


    • Has the applicant completed substantial conservation projects in different categories? (At least four projects are required of silver medal applicants; at least three are required of bronze medal applicants.)
    • Was the time spent on each project indicated?
    • Were the projects innovative?
    • Does the applicant indicate the origin of project ideas?

    Project Documentation

    • Was each project described in detail, including illustrations and/or photographs of the work done?
    • Did the applicant meet the expectations for project documentation? Include reasons for choosing each project, preparation, research, consulting others, design, planning, and approvals from land managers for each project.
    • Were newspaper articles, letters of thanks or commendation, and other supporting materials included in one well-organized binder?


    • Do the plans demonstrate excellence?
    • Did these projects result in a positive impact on the local community?

    Leadership and Involvement of Others

    • Did the applicant give leadership and involve others in carrying out the projects?
    • Did the applicant receive guidance from other organizations and professionals?
    • Did the applicant help others learn about natural resource conservation?

    Adult Scouter Nominations—Gold Medal

    • Was the candidate nominated by a recognized conservation or environmental organization?
    • Did the letter of nomination include an explanation of accomplishments?
    • Were the accomplishments cited part of the nominee’s paid professional responsibilities?
    • Has the nominee influenced youth and educational programs emphasizing sound stewardship of our nation’s natural resources and environmental improvement?
    • Has the nominee rendered distinguished and unusual service to natural resource conservation and environmental improvement over a sustained period (at least 20 years)?
    • Were the cited accomplishments at the regional, national, or international level?

    Organization Nominations—Gold Certificate

    • Is the organization unaffiliated with Scouting?
    • Was the organization nominated by a recognized conservation or environmental organization?
    • Has a letter of nomination been received by the Chief Scout Executive ?
    • Were letters of endorsement received by the Chief Scout Executive?
    • Has a supporting letter indicating the organization’s contribution to youth conservation/environmental education been received by the Chief Scout Executive?
    • Has the nominee demonstrated leadership and a commitment to youth on a national or international level, reflecting the mission of the Hornaday Awards program to encourage learning about natural resource conservation and the environment?