Always leave a place better than you found it.
For more than 100 years, Scouts have followed that doctrine everywhere they go. It’s in our DNA.
And it’s why the Boy Scouts of America has teamed up with Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit devoted to ending littering, improving recycling and beautifying America’s communities.
The embodiment of that partnership is the Keep America Beautiful Hometown USA Award, a fun way to honor Boy Scouts who help improve their communities in demonstrable ways.
Boy Scouts can earn the award by completing a community service project and earning three merit badges from a list of 13.
The application, available in this PDF, can be completed by the Scout and given to a leader, who takes it to his or her local council service center to purchase the emblem, Supply No. 356.
Ideas for the community service project
- Plan and execute a Great American Cleanup in your local community. Adopt a park, block, beach or vacant lot. Remove litter and debris. Build picnic tables or fix up old ones. Paint benches.
- Build a nature trail or trashless trail for use as an outdoor classroom or for community enjoyment.
- Register and organize an America Recycles Day event that involves your unit (i.e., newspapers, electronic gadgets and/or bottle collections).
- Conduct a litter survey of local storefronts. Determine areas where litter exists, and work with store owners/local government to help improve conditions.
- Become involved in a local environmental/recycling issue. Attend public meetings, talk to public officials and make a report to your unit about what you have learned. Decide how you want to become involved in resolving the issue and spend your project time educating your fellow citizens as to your viewpoint and assisting your “side” in its campaign.
- Develop and help maintain a community garden or tree trail in your community.
- Plan and make a presentation to elementary students about the importance of conserving natural resources. Take students on a nature walk, pointing out natural resources.
- Conduct soil and water conservation activities on a heavily used trail to prevent erosion. Record your activities.
- Construct water facilities and plant vegetation that will provide food and shelter for wildlife in appropriate places.
- Organize an anti-litter poster competition among junior and senior high school students. Arrange for businesses to donate awards for the winners and recruit community judges. Include media coverage. Get local businesses and schools to display the posters.
Earning the award
- Scouts successfully complete the requirements as outlined. The unit advancement chairperson will know which merit badges each Scout needs in order to qualify.
- The community service project should be completed under the overall direction of a natural resources professional or other qualified adult supervisor.
- Scouts complete the Hometown U.S.A. Award application form and present it to their unit leader or unit advancement chairperson.
- After completing the project, the adult supervisor should sign a statement that the project has been completed and meets the requirements of the project sponsor.
- An adult leader takes the completed application to the council service center to purchase the emblem.
‘How Will You … End Littering’ video contest announced
Keep America Beautiful has announced a video contest open to students in grades 9 to 12.
Entrants must create an educational video lasting 30 to 60 seconds in which they share ideas about how to end littering. The contest deadline is Nov. 7, 2016.
Two big winners will get an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2017 Keep America Beautiful National Conference in Washington, D.C.
Hat tip: Thanks to the BSA’s Keith Christopher for the blog post idea.