This is the third in a series about the BSA Hornaday Award Program. In this segment, author Ken Zabel describes some of the Hornaday projects which members of Troop 319 completed. This article describes how the individual awards and the unit Hornaday awards were earned.
Previous articles in this series:
- BSA Hornaday Award Program – Introduction (includes the authors’ biographies)
- BSA Hornaday Award Program – William O’Brochta tells his story
BSA Hornaday Award Program -Ken Zabel talks about Troop 319’s Hornaday Award
In 2010 I become a Founder and an Assistant Scoutmaster for a new troop in Brooklyn, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. My son and sixteen fellow Webelos II Scouts were going to be split up into five different area troops. During the first meeting of Troop 319, Scoutmaster Tom Schloemer took these new Scouts BSA on a hike through the 68 acre wooded area behind our chartering organization. The scouts were excited – many had not even seen the woods that are landlocked between Brooklyn and Cleveland – and they are in our backyard! Scoutmaster Tom Schloemer had taken five trash bags with him to pick up trash they encountered, but scouts came running back twice for more bags. It was immediately apparent that these young men were concerned about the environment and very motivated to help keep it clean. During their hike they also noted numerous discarded items in the woods that they could not just pick up and carry back with them – car axles, numerous tires and rims, sections of fencing, car hoods, furniture, and a refrigerator! We looked for additional ways that these young men could develop their understanding of conservation as wise and intelligent management of natural resources – at the local, state, and national levels.
The next weekend the Scouts BSA worked with their former pack to clean up a nearby city park (city). A nearby troop was planning to cleanup a section of county highway which ran between where our troops met, but they could not locate enough volunteers. Our scouts eagerly joined this effort (county). An effort was being organized to clean up the Towpath Trail area of Northeast Ohio. Scouts joined the efforts of “RiverSweep!” to clean the watershed areas that lead to the Ohio-Erie Canal, the man-made canal which flows into Lake Erie (regional). Scouts were eager to work on these projects – and their desire to learn more about how they can help was evident. This enthusiasm was greatly increased when they learned about the next two areas we had found to help with. Lakefront Park is an Ohio State Park along Lake Erie. One Saturday scouts wore their swimsuits and Class B Shirts as we joined “Trash and Pancakes” and ate breakfast on the beach and ‘swept’ the beach for trash and discarded items (state). The scouts used the skills that they had learned from Park Rangers at Cuyahoga Valley National Park where they had been trained and joined Saturday ‘Trail Sweeps’ to clean and maintain park trails (national) – Hornaday Unit Award 1 (Soil and Water Conservation). Many of the scouts were also awarded National Park Scout Ranger patches. This was not a typical Hornaday Project, but the Greater Cleveland Council Advancement Committee was very impressed with all of Troop 319’s activities to clean and maintain city, county, regional, state, and national properties; after they learned about the Hornaday Award Program, they awarded Troop 319 the first William T. Hornaday Award in Greater Cleveland Council’s history!
A subsequent work day was set up to collect the large trash items the scouts had noted in the woods. The scouts and area volunteers located and carried out the trash found discarded in the woods. They separated it and took four hundred pounds of metals to be recycled – Hornaday Unit Award 2 (Resource Recovery – Recycling).
During trail sweeps in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, one scout, John , learned about an invasive plant that was invading the park. Autumn Olive is a large bush that had overtaken the fields where the Audubon Society had counted and tagged Monarch Butterflies for many years. The primary counting field had been completely overtaken by this invasive species. John coordinated 31 volunteers for more than 165 hours to remove 8,275 square feet of this area – 1/5 of an acre. When this field had been cleared, only one tree and two bushes had survived! John received a Hornaday Badge, and since at least sixty percent of Troop 319 assisted – Hornaday Unit Award 3 (Invasive Plant Species Removal).
Mason was concerned about trash and chemicals being dumped into Brooklyn storm drains. He learned about a grant program to upgrade regional sewers and storm drain systems. He applied for a $4,000 grant wh©©ich allowed Troop 319 to purchase, and install over one thousand 5” aluminum markers which included a fish and a notation “Do not dump – drains to lake.” He designed and scouts hung a door hanger on each of the front doors of the houses on these streets to inform the residents of the project, and help educate them that anything dumped into the storm drains will flow into Lake Erie. Mason received a Hornaday Badge and Troop 319 was awarded Hornaday Unit Award 4 (Air and Water Pollution Control).
John was also concerned about trash and other materials being dumped down the storm drains in his Cleveland neighborhood. These drains also drain into the streams and creeks that lead directly into Lake Erie. John researched other ways to educate residents about this environmental concern. His second Hornaday Project was to mark the storm drains with a painted message (“Do not dump – drains to waterways”) and distribute door hangers in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland – Hornaday Unit Award 5 (Air and Water Pollution Control).
Zack was also concerned about the woods behind where the troop meets. In the two years since the original troop meeting, careless people had littered the area and discarded more items in the woods behind the troop meeting place. Zack organized the troop and area volunteers to clean and remove trash from 68 acres in the Big Creek Watershed and received a Hornaday Badge was the troop was awarded Hornaday Unit Award 6 (Soil and Water Conservation).
These projects completed by Troop 319 caught the attention of the National Boy Scout Office. Tim Beaty, Chairman of the National William T. Hornaday Awards Committee wrote: “I wish to congratulate the young men of Troop 319 for having earned an unprecedented six William T. Hornaday Unit Awards for outstanding service to conservation. Earning a single Unit Award is indeed an accomplishment, especially for a Troop that is just over two years old, but to have earned six Unit Awards in that time frame speaks highly of your dedication and commitment to service to our environment. By earning these Unit Awards you have demonstrated that the vast majority of your unit comes together time and time again to make a change in our natural resources and through your example that the people around you are becoming more aware of the needs of our environment.”