In the unsullied areas of the Yellowstone National Park wilderness, away from the tourist spots, Eagle Scouts Benjamin Alva and Cody Clements looked for clues that could lead to other-worldly discoveries.
They collected samples from 200-plus-degree hot springs, preparing them for analysis of their nitrogen compounds, which are critical for sustaining life. Scientists have found possible ancient hot springs on Mars. The Yellowstone research could help scientists identify possible evidence of life in the former springs during future missions to the “Red Planet.”
“I know nothing about astrobiology, but I love biology,” Clements says. “I learned so much in less than two weeks; it was the most influential thing I did that summer.”
The Eagle Scouts’ research in 2018 was part of the National Eagle Scout Association World Explorer program, which connects Eagle Scouts with scientists doing groundbreaking work.
Your Scouts can apply for future expeditions by clicking here; the application deadline is at the end of this month. The BSA Scholarships page also features college scholarships for Scouts from universities and organizations. Others come from BSA associations, teams and committees, like the NESA STEM scholarship.
Jakob Ryan Palmer, an Eagle Scout from Troop 230 of Saint Joseph, Mo., is the most recent NESA STEM Scholarship recipient. He earned 124 merit badges, some of which ignited his passion for a career in technology and research.
Listen to how Scouting impacted him and how the scholarship will help fund his career goals in the video below.
The scholarships on the BSA Scholarships page are not only for Eagle Scouts, some are available for Explorers, Venturers, Sea Scouts, High Adventure Base staff, Order of the Arrow members and those who were involved in Cub Scouts. The award amounts range from $500 to more than $50,000. Due dates to apply span the entire calendar year, check the page for updates and deadlines.
The scholarships and programs listed on the page can help Scouts pursue their careers. Dakotah Henn, an Eagle Scout with Troop 167 of Huntley, Ill., just finished his World Explorer expedition in Ecuador this summer, where he studied the wildlife of the Amazon rainforest. It was a perfect program for his endeavors to become a zoologist.
Alva, who worked with Clements and Dr. Nancy Hinman, a professor at the University of Montana, in Yellowstone, is interested in space exploration and plans to apply for jobs in that field. The World Explorers program combined his career interests with Scouting fun.
In between the time of collecting hot springs samples, the team saw buffalo herds, a grizzly bear and witnessed a rare double eruption of the Grand Geyser. They also enjoyed “S’mOreos” — s’mores, but used Oreo cookies instead of graham crackers.
“It was like a long Scouting event, doing this important research,” Alva says.