06/01/04 — Local Scout receives rare national award

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Local Scout receives rare national award

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 1, 2004 1:58 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Eagle Scout Stevie Lewis has received a national scouting award, one of only two given in the last 30 years in the Tuscarora Council.

The William T. Hornaday badge is the oldest conservation award in America, having started in the early 1900s when scouting was first getting started. It is named after Dr. William T. Hornaday, a director at the New York Zoological Park who worked with Boy Scouts to motivate them to take an active role in conservation.

Stevie Lewis and Emma Lewis

News-Argus/Bonnie Edwards

Emma Lewis is shown pinning the national Hornaday badge on her son, Stevie Lewis, an Eagle Scout, who earned the award by doing a conservation project at the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.

Tom Millisor, the Torhunta District scout executive, presented the award to Lewis during a National Court of Honor that began at 7 p.m. Monday in the Mount Olive Methodist Church. The award was for work Lewis did on a conservation project at the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. The project involved removing old landscape timbers that were decayed and moving plants into a place that was re-seeded after being retired as a picnic area.

The park rangers told his troop leader, Mike Best, they welcome anybody who wants to work on their Eagle or conservation projects. They said the work done by Lewis and the other five Scouts was part of a larger project to improve the park.

Qualification for the award is difficult, said Millisor. An Eagle working to earn the Hornaday badge must earn specific merit badges that deal with conservation and environmental science, design a project and demonstrate leadership through planning and recruiting volunteers, follow through with the project and then apply to the National Office of the Boy Scouts of America. Going through this process does not guarantee the youth's approval.

While Eagle projects must be approved locally before the work starts, the Hornaday badge comes after the Eagle finishes the work and is ready to submit the paperwork to the national scouting office. The local council checks to make sure all the criteria are followed before sending it to the national office.

Millisor said that when Lewis and Best brought in the paperwork for the Hornaday badge, he had never seen one. Bill Lappin, the Tuscarora Council executive, had only given one in the past 30 years.

Lewis doubts this will be his last post-Eagle project. The night after he received his Eagle he was looking in the Scout handbook to find another one to do. "I'll probably do that again," he said.

But he says he will be too busy this summer to start another project. He will go to Brevard Music Center for its summer program and then back to Winston-Salem to the School of the Arts for his senior year. His instrument is the French horn.

"Being away from home took me away from the (Scout) meetings, and I wanted to stay involved," he said. He had been involved in scouting from the first grade when he became a Tiger Cub, and he didn't know life without it. "So much time was being spent in the classroom and in a six-by-six practice room, it was good to get out in the woods and do something."

He said he found the project easy to do from long distance. It involved more planning than Eagle projects. Then, he set up the work through e-mails and telephone conversations. Several fellow Scouts helped him with the two days of labor-intensive work it took while he was home on weekends.

"It took a lot of manual labor, a lot of sweat," said Lewis. "It's a larger application of what we're taught in Scouts."

His mother, Emma Lewis, pinned the Hornaday badge on him. His father, Steve Lewis, beamed with pride.

Stevie Lewis had earned his Eagle award last year at the age of 15. Mrs. Lewis said that gave him ample time to keep on working on post-Eagle projects.

"He can keep on until his 18th birthday," she said. "All of this was done in his 16th year."

She said a lot of boys who receive their Eagle around age 18 run out of time to do these other projects. He has time to go farther, and she says she's proud of him.