Eagle Scout Josh Stone has been working with professional scientists since he was 13.
But nothing could prepare him for the work it would take to earn the top conservation award that the BSA has to offer—the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal.
“When I first saw the requirements, I was shocked at how much work they would require, and how daunting the award seemed,” says Josh, whose dad is one of those professional scientists, a biologist.
Several years and four massive projects later, Josh was being presented with the award by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne in Washington, D.C.
“Not until I was actually given the award did I begin to realize the impact my projects had on the environment as well as on other people,” Josh says. “I don’t particularly like fanfare or recognition, but I realize the importance of inspiring other people.”
It takes more than a passing interest in conservation to earn this honor. It takes years of dedication and hard work.
Josh says the key for him was to think big, but not too big.
“Something that helped me earn the award was to break it down into steps,” he says.
First Things First
Completing the Silver Medal requirements is similar to planning an Eagle Scout project, only bigger. You can’t do it unless you already have a passion for the subject matter.
Josh has always been passionate about preserving the environment near his home in Royal Oak, Md. Each of his Hornaday projects focused on that area, and each project had its own challenges.
Seems there’s a lot of paperwork that goes along with trying to save the Earth.
“One thing I found difficult was writing up the summary and working on the actual application,” Josh says. “It was easy to put off, and it took a large amount of time. The writing required a lot of motivation on my part.”
The key is not to try to save the Earth overnight. Scouts should realize going in that this isn’t going to be easy.
Instead of focusing on the Silver Medal right away, Josh suggests Scouts work on the requirements for the Badge and Bronze Medal first.
Don’t Work Alone
In the process of earning any of the Hornaday awards, guys likely are going to have to enlist the help of scientists and others with experience.
Along his way, Josh had to address nearly 100 science professionals from state and federal agencies like the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
But he didn’t flinch. When going after projects like these, you need all the help you can get.
“The most critical factor is getting good, qualified conservation professionals to work with you,” says Tim Beaty, chair of the Hornaday committee. “I think they can be found anywhere, in every county—in hiking clubs, in Audubon societies….
“Your local blue pages with government listings will have some sort of government agency that can help.”