NNJC Conservation Program

For Scouts

About the William T. Hornaday Award 

The Hornaday Awards are highly prized by those who have received them: Only slightly more than a thousand medals have been awarded over the past 70 years. These awards represent a substantial commitment of time and energy by individuals who have learned the meaning of a conservation/environmental ethic. Any Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or Venturer willing to devote the time and energy to work on a project based on sound scientific principles and guided by a conservation professional or a well-versed layperson can qualify for one of the Hornaday Awards. Any of the awards will take months to complete, so activities should be planned well in advance. 

The fundamental purpose of the Hornaday Awards program is to encourage learning about natural resource conservation and the environment. Understanding and practicing sound stewardship of natural resources and environmental protection strengthens Scouting's emphasis on respecting the outdoors. The goal of this awards program is to encourage and recognize truly outstanding efforts undertaken by Scouting units, Scouts and Venturers, adult Scouters, and other individuals, corporations, and institutions that have contributed significantly to natural resource conservation and environmental protection.

Hornaday Projects 

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. 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?

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 Medal. 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.  IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT SCOUTS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN THE HORNADAY AWARD SHOULD HAVE THEIR PROJECT PRE-APPROVED BY THE CONSERVATION COMMITTEE.

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 the Council service center Scout shop.

Other Conservation Projects

Not all conservation projects need to be as large, thorough, and far-reaching as Hornaday projects.  Check back on this site for suggested conservation projects, including those that can be used for the National Good Turn for America.  In the interim, if you need suggestions, contact the Conservation Committee.


Questions or comments?  Contact Ann Murphy at Ann.Murphy333@scouting.org.


Scout Shop
Phone: 201.651.9743

Scout Shop Hours:
9 am - 6 pm (Mon.) 
9 am - 8 pm (Tues)
9 am - 6 pm (Wed., Thur.)
9 am - 5 pm (Fri)
9 am - 2 pm (Sat.)
Closed Sundays
25 Ramapo Valley Rd., Oakland N.J. 07436 | 201-677-1000  | 
 HOURS: MON - FRI 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM