Boy Scouts can earn merit badges in everything from Atomic Energy to Shotgun Shooting. But there has never been a badge for sustaining the planet, until now.
On July 15, the Boy Scouts of America introduced the Sustainability merit badge, a new award designed to teach scouts about conservation and natural resource management. The badge is particularly important since scouts will be required to get it in order to earn the Eagle Scout rank, the organization’s highest award.
Boy Scouts can earn merit badges in over 100 different topics. To earn a badge, scouts must learn certain skills and competencies related to that particular subject.
For the Sustainability badge, scouts have to develop and implement plans to reduce their family’s water and electric usage. They also must learn about topics such as climate change, species decline, and population concerns.
Chris Hunt is the Team Leader of the Boy Scouts’ National Advancement Team, which helps develop merit badges and other awards. He recently spoke about the Sustainability merit badge with Scouting Magazine’s blog.
“The sustainability merit badge, in essence, takes conservation and environmental science to another level,” Hunt said. “[The merit badge] further suggests that development, while meeting the needs of the present, cannot compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
Though the Boy Scouts award several badges for their members’ conservation efforts, the organization has made Sustainability the most essential one. Scouts have to earn either Sustainability or Environmental Science (which focuses on pollution prevention and natural processes) in order to reach the rank of Eagle Scout.
Over its 103-year history, roughly 2% of all Boy Scouts have earned the Eagle Scout badge.