Conservation and Environment

Since 1910, conservation and environmental studies have been an integral part of the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts have rendered distinguished public service by helping to conserve wildlife, energy, forests, soil, and water. Past generations of Scouts have been widely recognized for undertaking conservation Good Turn action projects in their local communities. Through environmental explorations, Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturers, and Sea Scouts visit the outdoors and discover the natural world around them. Many natural resource careers are born in Scouting.

Since its first appearance in the 1955 printing of the Boy Scout Handbook, the Outdoor Code has reminded Scouts to be conservation-minded.

The Outdoor Code
As an American, I will do my best to—
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation-minded.

Conservation Handbook, Second Edition

The Conservation Handbook is a book about caring for the Earth. It is for Scouts and BSA leaders, for parents, park rangers, land managers, and everyone else who wants to involve volunteers in projects that are good for our natural resources. While the Conservation Handbook bears the emblem of the Boy Scouts of America, its message is of value for leaders of many organizations. It is a book for anyone eager to explore environmental opportunities that can help young people become enthused stewards of the land.

Available in Scout shops and at ScoutShop.org.

About the Author

Robert Birkby has written three editions of the Boy Scout Handbook, two editions of the Fieldbook, and the first edition of the Conservation Handbook. A former director of conservation at Philmont Scout Ranch, he received the William T. Hornaday gold medal in 2010 for his decades of environmental leadership in America and abroad.

Recognizing Conservation - BSA Unveils Distinguished Conservation Service Award

For more than a century, the BSA has encouraged and honored conservation work with an award that recognizes youth, adults and organizations who have demonstrated tremendous effort and commitment to the environment. This award, which until now had been known as the William T. Hornaday Award, is being discontinued, and the new BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award is being introduced to underscore the importance of encouraging everyone to participate in environmental stewardship.

The new BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award will continue to recognize the conservation efforts of Scouts, Venturers, Sea Scouts, adult volunteers, and other individuals, corporations, and institutions that contribute significantly to natural resource conservation and environmental protection. It has been streamlined and modernized to build on the extraordinary contributions made by all the dedicated award recipients to date, and we believe the changes will help make these important efforts even more accessible for today’s members.

The BSA continuously looks for opportunities to improve our programs and awards as part of our efforts to strengthen the Scouting experience for all. As part of the BSA’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, we are in the process of reviewing our programs, names of camps, awards and other aspects to ensure each component models our commitment because there is no place for racism or discrimination– not in Scouting and not in our communities. As we reviewed the William T. Hornaday Award, the BSA uncovered issues with Dr. Hornaday that go against the BSA’s values, and we determined that, given this information, the conservation award should no longer bear his name in order to uphold our commitment against racism and discrimination.

Effective immediately, the Boy Scouts of America is transitioning conservation recognition to the new BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award. The change in the award going forward does not in any way diminish the impactful conservation efforts taken on by Scouts, volunteers, and organizations over many years as part of the previous awards program. Their efforts have made important and positive differences in their communities and remain among the proudest bodies of work in Scouting.

For those who have earned a Hornaday award prior to this change, the legacy award can now be referred to as the BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award. Although we are unable to replace medals or badges earned by previous award recipients, replacement certificates can be requested.

For those that have submitted or are currently working on a Hornaday award or project, the new award program outlines a path to transition to the BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award. Bronze or Silver award distinctions will be used temporarily for individuals whose efforts were already submitted or underway under the previous award program.

For all others, the BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award will stand on its own as the organization’s highest award for conservation and environmental service.

Learn more about the BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award Program