Yes, you recycle, drive a hybrid car, and plant trees on
Earth Day. You’re doing your part to help protect our planet. But a select few
are driven to make an even bigger impact.
Those people are eligible for the William T. Hornaday Award for Distinguished Service in Conservation.
And despite its lengthy name, the award’s list of honorees is short. Only about
1,200 people have received the medal since its creation in 1914. That’s why
it’s often called “An Olympic medal bestowed by the Earth.”
Hornaday, whose name is synonymous with conservation,
founded the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. He’s also responsible for saving
the American bison and Alaskan fur seal from extinction. But while Hornaday
paid some serious dues, you won’t need to save an endangered species to earn a
Hornaday award. You should be prepared, though, to work more than a week or
two. Unlike many knots, this award can take months or even years to earn.
There are several levels of Hornaday awards, though not all
of them come with the right to wear the blue, green, and white knot pictured
above. Unit certificates and bronze medals exist. But the knot doesn’t
accompany those awards. Only Scouts who receive the silver medal or Scouters
who receive the gold medal may wear the knot.
Nominations come from your local council and must be
approved by the Boy Scout National Office in Texas. The national conservation
committee will contact you if you can earn the prestigious award.
Not everyone can earn the award, but every little step you
take for the environment can have a marked impact on the Earth. Even if you’re
not ready for a yearlong conservation effort, you still have a responsibility
to future generations. So start now and maybe one day you’ll make the short