Choosing a William T Hornaday Conservation Project for Boy Scouts

Several William T. Hornaday Conservation awards require completing a large conservation project. Choosing a project can be both difficult and time-consuming.

Choosing a Project

Interests: Candidates must choose a project of interest in order to put the most effort possible into the workings of their projects.

Lasting: Choose a project that will produce a result for others to enjoy far into the future. This does not limit the project exclusively to construction efforts. For example, an Energy Conservation program with Habitat for Humanity that involves developing a curriculum and providing materials for people to teach a course in Energy Conservation would certainly fit this requirement.

Significant: A Hornaday project is more than an Eagle project. An Eagle Project is typically a short-term effort that requires some pre-planning and minimal after project work. The project may take from 100-200 hours on average. Hornaday projects require extensive pre-planning and a good deal of after project work, taking up to 400 hours to complete. Thus, Candidates should choose a project that is not too limited. Planting some trees one day is definitely not sufficient.

Education: The chosen project should teach conservation practices to others. This does not mean that the project must exclusively include an education component or class material. During an erosion control project Candidates could, for example, spend ten minutes during lunch telling the participants how the erosion barrier and plants will help prevent degradation of the soil and the dangers of excessive erosion.

To further understand what makes Hornaday projects different from Eagle Projects or other service work, see the below descriptions of example projects.

Meet Hornaday Criteria:

1. Designing an area using native plants that serves as a wildlife home for animals displaced due to clear-cutting.

2. Public awareness campaign to describe the hazards of laundry detergent phosphates based on original published research to support conclusions.

3. Designing and constructing artificial fish habitats for lakebed stabilization and homes for fishes.

4. Designing a landscape using native plants to prevent soil and bank erosion.


1. Planting 200 trees.

2. Setting up recycling bins at a school.

3. Landscaping a garden area.

4. Cutting down dead plants and trees.

5. Having a benefit concert for an environmental group.

6. Building a nature trail.

Detail on Project Categories

What about the required categories? A sample project that would meet Hornaday criteria from each category is briefly described below. Recall that each project must come from a different category. Candidates may not make a category of his own.

Energy Conservation: Work with a local government to develop a program to LEED certify existing buildings. Run the program through five certifications and train individuals to continue the program.

Soil and Water Conservation: Work with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to develop a Hydrilla management plan. Start this program. Record data relating to the effectiveness of Hydrilla control and publish media articles educating the public on the program.

Fish and Wildlife Management: Track the movement of deer populations through radio tags. Find where the populations are concentrating in different seasons and work to get high concentration areas designated as conservation land. Selectively plant plants that deer eat in those conserved areas.

Forestry and Range Management: Determine detrimental effects related to human traffic in forests, especially in the form of footpaths. Using this information, plan the least invasive paths for four different trails through the forest. Build these trails using only natural resources found in the forest.

Resource Recovery (Recycling): Examine the merits and detriments to recycling different kinds of plastic. Find which types will provide the greatest revenue for the local government and help them implement an awareness campaign about the chosen types of material to be recycled.

Air and Water Pollution Control: Work with the Department of Environmental Quality to determine the benefit of emissions testing for cars. Write a program to implement these tests statewide or to eliminate them based on research determining the number of cars that exceeded these requirements.

Hazardous Material Disposal and Management: Examine the ability of tomato plants to remove DDT from the soil. Plant various types of tomatoes on land that has large concentrations of DDT and determine which plant is most effective. Make recommendations to the Department of Environmental Quality as to the most effective removal method.

Invasive Species Control: Use competitive inhibition techniques to selectively place plants to outcompete kudzu. Report on the best inhibitor and the effectiveness of the inhibition. Monitor the lasting impacts of the inhibitor on the rest of the natural environment.

Some projects can fit in multiple categories. The Candidate should choose the category that best fits the project or has not been used for another project. For example, the Hydrilla project in the Soil and Water Conservation category could just as easily fit into the Invasive Species Control category.

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