Scouting for the future: Lifelong Scout brings experience full circle

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BSA scouts work in desert near saguaro cactus

CAP’s Senior Industrial Hygienist Christina Collins is no stranger to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). She’s been active with the organization since she was 14, first participating as an Explorer Scout, then volunteering as an adult leader. When BSA added young ladies to the troop program five years ago, she became a Scout Master for her daughter’s troop and has been leading it ever since.

So, when General Manager Brenda Burman asked if Collins could host a workshop for BSA, she stepped up! 

BSA scouts and volunteers pose in CAP’s board room

Collins and other employee volunteers dove in, developing a series of activities that met the clearly defined requirements for the environmental science merit badge. They selected which ones they wanted to teach and put together concepts and materials to work through with the scouts. The nearly year-long effort and collaboration with the BSA Grand Canyon Council culminated in a two-day workshop in January 2024.

The workshop was held at CAP Headquarters, a 130-acre campus that has well-equipped conference rooms surrounded by undeveloped desert.  This allowed the scouts to watch short videos about a topic and then immediately experience it, observing the biodiversity of the desert ecosystem. The workshop covered areas such as air, water and land pollution, endangered species, pollution prevention and conservation, invasive species, pollination, and career paths in environmental science. Where it was appropriate, these topics were tied into environmental factors related to CAP and its operations.

BSA scouts listen to presentation in conference room with CAP volunteers

“The scouts learned about quagga muscles as an invasive species, listened to career talks from CAP environmental professionals, and explored the environmental factors that were considered prior to construction of the CAP system such as environmental studies and wildlife crossings,” said Collins.

After the weekend, 16 scouts from ages 12-17 had earned their environmental science merit badge, a step toward becoming an Eagle Scout.

Twelve-year-old Parker Gray was one of the scouts who attended the event as he works toward becoming an Eagle Scout.

“I learned how to use air quality tools that measure ozone and particulates in the air, went into the desert to find plants and animals and got to learn about some of the environmental jobs people can do,” said Gray.

For CAP’s employee volunteers, they had a chance to share their knowledge and make a connection with youth in the community.

“I really appreciated working with a team of colleagues who volunteered to help with this,” said Collins. “They each brought a set of skills to the table that helped to make it a well-rounded, educational, and fun experience for the scouts.”

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