A Lesson in Nature for Some Russellville Boy Scouts
This is a perfect time of year to look around and appreciate the beautiful leaves and maybe take a hike. It's been drilled into our heads: Recycle this, don't litter. But no matter how much you may hear about environmentalism, problems still exist. Some young people from Russellville went on a special journey where they not only learned about nature, they saw firsthand what conservation is meant to preserve.
Taking a walk through the woods is a popular pastime in Missouri state parks, but for the boys of Pack 96 it's more of a mission.
"Because it's part of nature and it's pretty." pack member Devin Koestner says.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources decided to sponsor a new patch for scouts at Onondoga Cave State Park in Leasburg, giving them a chance to learn about the park's natural resources.
"Obviously kids this age are the future, so having them become familiar with parks, our park in particular for kids in this area, and then just state parks in general, is always considered a good thing... You know, having them conservation oriented and that is kind of our focus here... Is certainly something that would be wonderful for the future, we want them to be aware of that," park naturalist Tiffany Addington says.
The boys are aware of the positive and potentially negative impacts they can have on their surroundings.
"We're just one of the people that likes to go through there, and many more people will go through there after us," pack member Calvin Shelden says.
As part of this new program they got to know their park and learned what they can do to make sure it stays beautiful.
"That you don't trash it, and keep it as clean as you found it or better and things like that," Koestner says.
"You're not supposed to shine the light on the bats. Why are you not supposed to shine lights on bats? Because then they'll wake up," Shelden says.
Even though the day was about learning, each member of Pack 96 had his favorite part.
"Hmmm..... Probably exploring the cave," Shelden says.
"I'd say the cave also," Koestner says.
The cave was just one of the things the scouts had to do to earn their patch.
"They also have to do a three hour service project to help us with certain areas of the park, and they have to hike two trails, and then they have to do a get to know your park check list. And then they have a cave quiz, which is always fun to do the cave quiz," Addington says.
And after completing that list of activities, which took two days, the boys earned a patch along with some new found respect for their environment.
"We clean, and recycling and cleaning up what we have to and what's left over from the other people," Koestner says.
"I think that kind of spreads the word about keeping our parks clean and keeping our environment clean, not just parks," Addington says.
And caring for that environment can be more than just a chore. Addington said the boys in Pack 96 were the first of many who will take part in this new program. She said she hopes these budding environmentalists will raise their voices and pass along the lessons they've learned about environmentalism.
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