The centerpiece of the Distinguished Conservation Service Awards is the project. The projects must encompass one of nine categories–Air & Water Pollution Control, Energy Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Management, Forestry & Range Management, Hazardous Materials Disposal & Management, Invasive Species Control, Pollinator Management, Resource Recovery, or Soil & Water Conservation.
The National Conservation Committee has designed a Project workbook help you organize your thoughts and document a Distinguished Conservation Service Project. Although the verbiage in this workbook is aimed at youth working on their bronze or silver medals, the sections and formats remain applicable for youth earning the Conservation Service Badge. Each copy of this workbook will document only one of your conservation projects.
This workbook is not to be used for the Adult awards because specific projects are not required; adult awards are by nomination only, not by application.
Just like there is no one definition of what an Eagle Service Project is, there is no one definition of what a Distinguished Conservation Award Project is. The best place to start is by looking at the Project workbook. While you are required to use the workbook, it is there to help you. In some cases, an Eagle Project can a great foundation for a Distinguished Conservation Service Project, but may only require some additional documentation to support your Award application. In other cases, additional work may be required.
What makes a Distinguished Conservation Service Project?
Each project must be in a different Conservation category, and therefore each project you do must address a conservation issue that is different from any of the other Conservation projects you do.
Conservation projects are different from Eagle Projects in a number of ways.
Conservation projects can benefit a BSA property, but only one such project per award
Conservation projects can be done on private land (conservation problems do not recognize ownership patterns)
One Conservation project can be your Eagle project if it also meets all of the other standards for a Conservation project
Educational projects are allowed, but only one of your projects should be primarily educational in nature.
Each project must stand on its own, and each is reviewed separately. Any relationships that may exist between your projects must be clearly defined for the reviewers, and individual work items cannot be counted toward more than one project.
For a Distinguished Conservation Service award, both of the conservation projects required must equal or exceed an Eagle project in scope, have a high degree of significance, be sustainable over time, and provide a long-term benefit to the natural resources and our environment. (Extreme caution must be used if the project is part of a larger effort, a recurring event, or sponsored by an organization or agency. Under these circumstances, it can be very difficult to demonstrate that the project was your original idea and you did not simply build off of the work others had already done.)
Projects with short-term benefits do not meet the minimum standards for a Conservation Service award. For example, litter pickups, single recycling pickups, or single weed pulls are not acceptable Conservation Service projects. These types of projects do not make a significant impact on the environment. Any substantial Conservation Service project by definition will significantly impact the environment and the community around the project area. A project that actually changes or impacts the environment must be of such duration that it exists long enough to change Mother Nature.
Projects designed to improve people’s access to an area almost never benefit the environment. One exception might be in an area that currently provides access, and that access is causing a negative impact on a conservation issue; if the Conservation project, in correcting that negative issue, improves human access as a secondary benefit, it may still be considered a suitable Conservation project.
The Board of Review will also look for increasing depth in research and documentation for projects from youth as they get older. Older youth need more robust sections on research before the project, long-term evaluation and monitoring of the effects of the project, and lessons learned in carrying out the projects.
While there is no set minimum number of hours for each project, making a significant change to the environment will require a great investment of your time. This kind of project cannot be done in a weekend.
You must consult with natural resource professionals;
Plan an approach to fix a problem;
Work with managers, public officials, and others in the community to gain the needed approvals;
Assemble the necessary resources to carry out the project;
Market your efforts to the community with emphasis on the positive impact to the community and the environment;
Get others excited to help;
Actually go out and change a trend in Mother Nature;
Follow up to see that Mother Nature actually responded in the way you and your advisors thought it would. If the conservation issue was easy to fix, the project would already have been done. This also distinguishes a Conservation Service project from an Eagle Project. A Conservation Service Project involves an on-going effort, whereas Eagle Projects cannot require continual monitoring.
If you’ve read this far, you may be asking, “How do I get started on the road to a Distinguished Conservation Service Badge or Medal?” Below is a brief checklist of the steps you need to take to get started.