• Scout earns rare award

  • When Jackson McArthur joined the Boy Scouts, he knew that he wanted to complete his Eagle Award project quickly.

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  • When Jackson McArthur joined the Boy Scouts, he knew that he wanted to complete his Eagle Award project quickly.
    “Most kids wait until the very last minute to do their Eagle project,” said the senior at Blue Springs High School. “I knew that waiting was something I did not want to do. I wanted to enjoy my time in Boy Scouts, so I got it done early.”
    Early, meant that McArthur received his Eagle Award at 13. The question then was what to do with the remaining time he had left in scouting. After looking through his merit badge book, he found some information on the William T. Hornaday Silver Award.
    The highest award in conservation for a Boy Scout, the national award has been given less than 100 times in 37 years. To receive the award, scouts have to complete four service projects in different areas of conservation - each equivalent to an Eagle service project. After four years of planning and completing the projects, McArthur is only the second scout in Missouri to receive the award and the first in the Heart of America council.
    “It is a special award and rarely given, so I was excited to receive it,” he said. “It is a pretty big deal and hard to do. It is designed to make a lasting impact on conservation. It definitely took longer than my Eagle project.”
    Conservation is exceedingly important to the honor roll student and member of the Blue Springs High School boys’ swim team.
    “Burr Oak Woods and other places like that are so important because of the natural areas and animals. I spend a lot of my free time there,” he said. “I think it all needs to be protected, and I hope that the projects I did make a lasting impact.”
    Three of the four projects McArthur completed were at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs. The first dealt with eradicating an invasive species, which in this case was garlic mustard. A biennial flowering plant, it spreads into other plant communities if left alone, so McArthur killed and removed a large cluster of the plant from a trail section.
    In his second project, McArthur and his troop assisted with a controlled burn at the nature facility. They cut down and removed red cedar trees as well as cleared out a glade so that the burn could restore the area to native grassland.
    The third project occurred at Maple Leaf Lake, just outside of Odessa. With the help of his fellow Boy Scouts once again, McArthur led the efforts to collect several different types of seeds including Blue Indigo, Ashley Sunflower and Rattlesnake Master. They then crushed the seeds and delivered them to the Missouri Department of Conservation, who were then able to plant the seeds elsewhere in the state.
    Page 2 of 2 - The final project took McArthur back to Burr Oaks to clean up a hillside that had some junk and scrap metal. The scraps were recycled, and the money well be used for further conservation projects at Burr Oak.
    “Each project only took about four or five hours to complete, so from that perspective it didn’t take much time at all,” he said. “What was most difficult was the planning. It took a lot of time to get everything in order, but it was all worth it.”
    McArthur said he has gained so much from earning the William T. Hornaday Award and from scouting itself. He said without Boy Scouts, he would not be the person he is today.
    “It pretty much made me who I am,” he said. “The lessons from scouting have taught me to be more confident and self-motivated. I don’t know where I would be without the Boy Scouts.”

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