Since 1910, conservation has been an integral part of the program of the Boy Scouts of America. The BSA has been a positive force in conservation and environmental efforts. 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.
Scouts of today have grown up hearing words such as ecosystem, biodiversity, and climate change. They recognize the need for, and the benefits of, conserving natural resources. Scouts understand that we all must work together for the betterment of the land, forests, wildlife, air, and water.
Much has been accomplished in recent years by individual Scouts and through unit conservation Good Turns. Much more needs to be done.
Support Your Local Conservationists
The Conservation Good Turn Award is an opportunity for Cub Scout packs, Scout troops and Venturing crews to join with conservation or environmental organizations (federal, state, local, or private) to carry out a conservation Good Turn in their home communities.
- The Scouting unit contacts a conservation agency and offers to carry out a Good Turn project.
- The agency identifies a worthwhile and needed project that the unit can accomplish.
- Working together in the local community, the unit and the agency plan the details and establish the date, time, and location for carrying out the project.
Many federal agencies are resources for the BSA’s Conservation Good Turn. These agencies include
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Forest Service
- Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
- U.S. Department of the Interior
- Fish and Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Land Management
- National Park Service
- Geological Survey
- Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Bureau of Reclamation
- U.S. Department of Commerce
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
A Conservation Good Turn certificate is available at the council service center for units that participate and report on their efforts. A Conservation Good Turn patch is also available for purchase at the council service center to recognize individual youth and adult members who participate in a meaningful conservation project.
The World Conservation Award provides another opportunity for individual youth members to “think globally” and “act locally” to preserve and improve our environment. This program is designed to make youth aware that all nations are closely related through natural resources and that we are interdependent with our world environment. Applications for this award are available at the council service center.
Conservation and environmental agencies typically have a backlog of needed projects that they have been unable to carry out for lack of funding or volunteers. The list of possible Good Turn projects is limited only by the needs of the agency and the willingness of the Scouting unit. In every community, whether urban, suburban, or rural, worthwhile projects await all Scouting units.
Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts
Cub Scouting conservation projects could involve the entire Cub Scout pack, or one den, plus adult leaders and family members. Hands-on projects help Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts realize that everyone can do things to care for the environment. Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts participating in the Conservation Good Turn can also meet some advancement requirements. Suggested projects include, but are not limited to
- Plant grasses, trees, shrubs, and ground cover to stop soil erosion.
- As a den or pack, adopt a park. Remove litter and garbage from a favorite neighborhood recreation area or park.
- Organize or participate in a recycling program in your neighborhood, or visit a recycling center.
- Arrange a natural resources awareness program. Invite natural resource professionals such as wildlife biologists, soil conservationists, foresters, or conservation officers to speak to your pack.
- Participate in a beach or waterfront cleanup. Record the items collected and determine the possible harmful effects to wildlife. With youth participation, develop a plan to educate the public about the dangers posed to wildlife.
- From a local, state, or national organization that is concerned about environmental protection, obtain suggestions for den and pack projects to improve the environment.
- As a den or pack, visit a public utility to learn about the wise use of resources, and become involved in programs offered by utilities to help consumers conserve resources.
- Contact the camp ranger or BSA local council property superintendent for information about camp needs and plans. Establish a nature trail, plant vegetation, or carry out other needed projects as requested by the camp ranger.
Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts
Scouts participating in the Conservation Good Turn can meet certain rank and merit badge requirements. Troops, crews and ships should consider advancement requirements when selecting projects to carry out. Suggested projects include, but are not limited to
- Plant shrubs to provide food and cover for wildlife.
- Build and set out bird and squirrel nesting boxes.
- Conduct stream improvement projects to prevent erosion.
- Plant grasses and legumes to provide ground cover in schoolyards, public parks, and recreation areas.
- Plant tree seedlings as part of a managed forestry plan.
- Help thin and prune woodlands in a managed tree improvement project.
- With a local forester, take part in or conduct a forest fire prevention program.
- Make an exhibit on conservation for a county fair.
- Develop a nature trail in a public park.
- Assist a local forester in a tree insect- and disease-control or public education project.
- Conduct a stream, river or lakeside trash collection project.
- Assist a local agency with a trout stream restoration project.
- Participate in a wildlife or wildfowl count.
- Conduct a rodent-control and public health education program under the guidance of the local health department or agency responsible for rodent control.
Download the Conservation Good Turn Certificate Application, When completed, submit the application to your local council service center.
For Scouts and units that want to take their conservation work to a higher level, the William T. Hornaday Awards program encourages and recognizes units, Scouts, Venturers Sea Scouts and Scouters who design, lead, and carry out conservation projects that are based on sound scientific principles and practices. The projects should contribute to sound conservation and long-term environmental improvement in the local community, the region, or the nation. The applicant is expected to research potential projects and to choose, with guidance from a Hornaday adviser, a worthy project from a recognized conservation category:
- Energy conservation
- Soil and water conservation
- Fish and wildlife management
- Forestry and range management
- Air and water pollution control
- Resource recovery (recycling)
- Hazardous material disposal and management
- Invasive species control
Seven types of Hornaday awards are available. The local council may present:
- The William T. Hornaday unit certificate for a conservation project by a pack, troop, team, or crew
- The Hornaday badge to individual Scouts, Venturers and Sea Scouts for outstanding service in conservation
- The Hornaday gold badge to adult Scouters who have given significant leadership to conservation at a council or district level
The National Council confers the other awards.
- Scouts, Venturers and Sea Scouts may apply for the bronze and silver medals.
- Adult Scouters may be nominated for the gold medal.
- Organizations unaffiliated with Scouting may be nominated for the gold certificate.
For more detailed information on the William T. Hornaday Awards program, visit https://www.scouting.org/awards/hornaday-awards/awards/.