Scouting & Conservation: William T. Hornaday Award

Dr. William T. Hornaday, then director of the New York Zoological Park and the founder of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C, originally initiated these conservation awards in 1914.

An outspoken advocate for conservation and a leader in saving the bison from extinction, he created the Wildlife Protection Medal to recognize those who made significant contributions to conservation.

The award was renamed in honor of Dr. Hornaday and became a Boy Scouts of America award after his death in 1937.

The purpose of the Hornaday Awards is to encourage conservation learning and conservation action by Scouts and Scout leaders while increasing public awareness of natural resource conservation and environmental protection.

The Awards strengthen Scouting’s emphasis and support for respecting the outdoors and conserving our wildlife heritage by rewarding significant conservation actions by Scouts and Scout leaders.

Award Administered by Awarded to Type How to qualify Maximum awards each year Requirements
Unit Award Council Pack, Troop, Team, Crew Certificate Be nominated or Apply Unlimited Complete 1 project; 60% of unit participates
Badge Council Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturer Badge and certificate Apply Unlimited Advancement requirements; 1 substantial project
Bronze Medal Council Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturer Medal, certificate and square knot Apply Unlimited Complete advancement requirements; complete at least 3 bronze substantial projects, each from a different project category
Silver Medal National Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturer Medal, certificate and square knot Apply Unlimited Complete advancement requirements; complete at least 4 silver substantial projects, each from a different project category
Gold Badge National Adult Scouter Badge Nomination only Unlimited Adult Scouter: leadership to conservation at council or area level for at least 3 years
Gold Medal National Adult Scouter Medal, certificate and square knot Nomination by conservation or environmental organization. No more
than 6
Adult Scouter: leadership to conservation at a national or regional level over a lifetime (at least 20 yrs.)
Gold Certificate National Organization or individual Certificate Be nominated No more
than 6
Outstanding contributions to youth conservation education for at least 3 years

Hornaday awards are very rare with less than 1500 awarded since 1917.

These awards are special because they are difficult to earn (or be nominated for), take careful planning, advising by a conservation professional, and will likely take months or even years to complete.

These awards are one of the few Scouting awards that can be earned as part of a well-planned Eagle project on a conservation issue, making it possible to earn the Eagle rank and the Hornaday award simultaneously.

Next time I will discuss in detail what is necessary for a Scout to earn a Hornaday Badge or a Bronze or Silver Hornaday Medal.

If you have any questions about Scouting and Conservation, please contact me at:

Chris Servheen
Chair, Conservation Committee
Montana Council
grizz@umontana.edu