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MERIT BADGE CLINIC OD


How on Earth? Scouts and their families learn stewardship of the environment.


JUST AFTER JON HARMON GRADUATED from high school, the Eagle Scout from Portola Valley, Calif., started acting a little strange around the house. “He was chasing us around turning the water off when we were washing our hands,” says his father, Scott, also an Eagle Scout. “I was getting a little frustrated.” That frustration led to


several conversations, which led the elder Harmon to think about what it means to live sustainably. It also prompted him to propose a merit badge in sustainability. “I realized that … [other Scouting families] could learn about how important it is to live sustainably, too.” Five years later, the Sustainability merit badge debuted at this summer’s national jamboree. And on Jan. 1, it will join the list of Eagle-required merit badges as an alternative to Environmental Science. The new badge begins and ends


with a family meeting in which family members discuss what they can do to live more sustainably. In between, the Scout undertakes projects, often along- side his family, to understand the big picture regarding topics such as water, food, energy, and transportation, as well as waste reduction, species decline, world population, and climate change. To learn more about the badge, we


talked with four Scouters who served on the Sustainability Merit Badge Task Force: Scott Berger of Scotch Plains, N.J., chairman of the Sustainability


22 S COUTING ¿ SEPTEMBER•OCTOBER 2013


not just of having enough for our lifetime but enough for future generations.”


WHY DO THE REQUIREMENTS FOCUS SO MUCH ON SCOUT- SIZE PROJECTS? “It’s a hard concept for a Scout to feel that he himself, as a single person, can have an impact on the world, but he certainly can have an impact within his own family,” Berger says. “We’re hoping to bring [sus- tainability] down to a level where a Scout can feel he can make a dif- ference, where his actions matter.”


CAN A SCOUT EARN THIS BADGE IF HE LIVES IN AN URBAN AREA? Yes, says Berger. “There are a lot of things we’ve done to make this badge viable for any Scout, regardless of where he’s living,” he says.


WHO CAN COUNSEL THIS BADGE?


Leadership Team overseeing the merit badge’s development and chairman of the Merit Badge Maintenance Task Force; Scott Harmon of Portola Valley, chairman of the content team; Steve Bowen of El Centro, Calif., a member of the National Advancement Committee; and David Disney of Kansas City, Mo., a member of the National Executive Board.


WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY? “Sustainability is more of a new way of thinking as opposed to the science in the Environmental Science merit badge,” Berger says. “The idea is not just to conserve but to truly be stew- ards of our environment, our energy sources, and more—to think in terms


Bowen suggests science teachers as potential council-approved counsel- ors. Disney recommends seeking out people who are leading other sustain- ability efforts in your community.


WHAT IMPACT CAN THIS BADGE HAVE? “Many young people are concerned about that and don’t know how to approach it. This gives them a path,” Disney says. Harmon adds, “We really want to empower the Scouting move- ment to make a difference, to make a visible difference in the world outside Scouting.” ¿


FIND MORE on the Sustainability merit badge at scoutingmagazine. org/sustainability.


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