Hornaday Projects and Youth Awards

William T. Hornaday Awards
For Distinguished Service to Natural Resource Conservation

The Hornaday Awards program encourages and recognizes units, Scouts, and Venturers 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 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.

Because the badge, the bronze medal, and the silver medal are individual awards, two or more individuals cannot claim credit for the same project. However, a project may be a part of a larger conservation effort, with different applicants carrying out different aspects of the same project. An Eagle Scout leadership service project may be used as a Hornaday project if it meets the aims and objectives of the William T. Hornaday program as listed below. Projects that have already been used to earn the William T. Hornaday badge may be used as one of the projects for a medal. Applicants are encouraged to involve their unit members in project work and demonstrate Scout leadership, thereby making their unit eligible for the unit award.

What Qualifies As a Hornaday Project?

First and foremost, the project must be a conservation project—it must be designed to address a conservation issue or need in the local area, and it must benefit the environment or the creatures that live there. Making an area more accessible for people is rarely for the benefit of the environment.

How big a project should be and how long it should last are commonly asked questions. Collecting aluminum cans over a weekend along with many other Scouts is a fine public service, but since little learning took place and there was no lasting impact on the community, the project would not qualify for a Hornaday Award. Similarly, a simple, one-time tree planting effort would not qualify.

However, a reforestation project in cooperation with a professional forester or park planner, learning which trees are appropriate to the area, ensuring proper spacing for best growth, following proper planting methods, and caring for the trees after planting might well qualify. Starting a community-wide recycling project and encouraging people to recycle might also qualify. Size of the project is not necessarily the important element. Rather, the results, the learning that took place, the applicant's demonstrated leadership, and the significance of the contribution to the community, park, or other lands are what count.

As to time, past recipients of the medals have indicated it takes no less than 18 months to complete the required merit badges and projects. So it's a good idea to start early in your Scouting career. You will find the Conservation Handbook, No. 33570, to be an invaluable source of ideas and assistance. It is available from your local council service center or Scout shop.

Required Projects

Applicants for the Hornaday badge must plan, lead, and carry out at least one project from one category of conservation. Bronze medal applicants must complete at least three significant projects in three different categories. Silver medal applicants must complete four significant projects in four categories. Each project is to be equivalent in scope to an Eagle Scout leadership service project. One project could be the applicant's Eagle Scout leadership service project, if it is suitable, and one could be performed on BSA property. The others must benefit a school, community, religious organization, or fulfill some other public service purpose.

The conservation categories are designed, in part, to make Hornaday Awards available to Scouts living in suburban and urban areas as well as those in rural settings, and to acknowledge the growing interest among Scouts and their leaders in actively improving the natural environment within their own communities. These categories also focus on the relationship between environmental abuses in urban centers and their impact in relatively unpopulated, sometimes distant, areas.

Project Examples

  • 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

Other good ideas for projects may be found in the publications and pamphlets of groups such as the National Audubon Society, the Izaak Walton League, the National Wildlife Federation, or governmental agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, USDA Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, state natural resource conservation agencies, and your state cooperative extension service. The best way to identify a project is to discuss the options with a Hornaday adviser.

There must be clear written evidence in your application that you did indeed plan, lead, and carry out long-term, substantial projects in the different conservation categories. Past winners have indicated that it takes at least 18 months to complete all the requirements. Judges check to see that all necessary signatures are on the applications; that the applicant (except for Venturer applicants) was not yet 18 when all requirements were completed; that all merit badge requirements have been completed; and that the projects are substantial and well-documented.

Additional written supporting material relating to the applicant's conservation work (newspaper articles, letters of commendation, photos of completed projects) is considered by the judges. Evidence of leadership in researching, planning, leading, and carrying out the projects, and of how this influenced other people, must be clearly documented.