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Walter Nature Park Provides Path to Scout Merit Badges

Pictured are Scout Leaders Joshua Weidman, Leo Lopez, and Roberet Merrill with Scouts Easton Merill, Tucker Weidman, Austin Lowry, Michael Lowry, Zakary Lopez, and Max von Wulffen.

All Boy Scout Merit Badges are not equal in that some badges demand more work and effort than others. The Forestry Merit Badge is an elective badge and among the more demanding to obtain. There are eight requirements with no easy path to meeting certain ones. That said, the difficult was made less difficult for scouts from Troop 200 (Meigs Co., OH), Troop 236 (Hurricane), and Troop 283 (St. Albans) on Saturday, May 28.

The path to the Forestry Badge was made easier by Shawnee District Forestry Merit Badge Commissioner Gerry Stover. Stover gathered scouts from the three troops at the Walter Nature Park on Red House Hill and presented them with an itinerary by which they could speedily meet half of the badge requirements. Stover enlisted the help of Jim and Anita Kirk of Culloden to help the scouts in identifying 15 different trees and shrubs. Both of the Kirks hold Forestry degrees from Glenville. The Walter Nature Park makes tree and shrub identification easy in that their are some 38 trees and shrubs with identifying labels. In many cases, the scouts just needed to find a tree or shrub that matched existing labels. In addition to identification, the scouts made note of the physical surroundings relating to the particular tree or shrub.

Once the scouts finished these requirements, they met with retired Forester Alan Sowards whom Stover had volunteered to speak on his experiences working for WVDF and his duties as a Fire guru. The information supplied by Sowards allowed the badge-seekers to satisfy an additional badge requirement. The scouts will still need to conduct research and answer a number of forestry related questions and write reports before they can satisfy all badge requirements.

Sowards also provided instruction in the use of two forestry tools, the McLeod fire tool and the Pulaski axe. The scouts used these tools and two others to help meet the requirements of the Paul Bunyan Award.

The Paul Bunyan requires scouts to demonstrate proficiency in using four different forestry tools. Additionally, the award requires two hours of trail work. The Nature Park’s trails were in need of much more than two hours of labor. The Scouts put in 4 hours in fixing a wet spot removing hazards to hikers.

Stover said of the Nature Park, “This is a great spot to accomplish the Paul Bunyan Award as well as fulfill requirements for the Tree ID. There is a section where you see Red Oak, White Oak and Black Oak.” Stover believes that the Nature Park’s offerings can be utilized by scouts from distant districts to make the Forestry Merit Badge easier to attain.

The following scouts were able to qualify for the Paul Bunyan Award and meet four of the eight Forestry Badge requirements on May 28th: Easton Merill (Troop 200), Tucker Weidman and Luke Facemyer (Troop 236), Austin Lowry, Michael Lowry, Zakary Lopez, and Max von Wulffen (Troop 283).

Adult Leaders, in addition to Stover, participating were Leo Lopez, Shawnee District Commissioner and Troop 283 leader; Robert Merill, Adult Leader Troop 200, and Joshua Weidman, Adult Leader Troop 236.

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