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William T. Hornaday Awards

If you’ve ever held a “buffalo nickel,” you’ve touched William Temple Hornaday’s legacy. The image on the nickel is the stuffed bison Hornaday created for the U.S. National Museum, now part of the Smithsonian Institution.Born in 1854 on a farm in Indiana, Hornaday fought his whole life to preserve endangered species.

Author of hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, he wrote more than 20 books and created the Bronx Zoo and D.C.’s National Zoo.


About 1,100 Hornaday medals have been awarded since 1917. That’s an average of fewer than 15 per year. (By contrast, 50,000 Scouts earned the rank of Eagle yearly.)

Hornaday established the awards program to recognize Scouts who complete a series of truly exceptional conservation projects. Earning one takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication.

Conservation and the Boy Scouts of America have been partners for a long time. Camping, hiking, and respect for the outdoors are a part of the Scouting heritage. Many of the requirements for advancement in Scouting call for an increasing awareness and understanding of the natural sciences. Many former Scouts have become leaders in conserving our environment and protecting it from abuse. Right now Scouts are involved in learning about environmental problems and actively working to make a difference.

This awards program was created to recognize those that have made significant contributions to conservation. Dr. Hornaday was an active and outspoken champion of natural resource conservation and a leader in saving the American bison from extinction.

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 Scouts BSA or Venture Scout 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.

For more information see the Hornaday AdvancementExternal Link section.



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