Scout's Forestry Merit Badge Day

Greeted by a beautiful sunny Saturday morning, 114 Scouts, their Leaders and forestry experts assembled at the Walkersville Watershed for a Forestry Merit Badge Day. The assembled persons were well prepared and anxious to go to work.

Scouts arriving and signing in

The event got started ahead of schedule after an opening event Flag raising ceremony and pledge of allegiance.

The presentation consisted of five stages: Tree Identification, Forester, Wood, Watershed Management and Ecology. These stages were presented a total of five times over the day.

Tree identification was handled by Dawne Howard, David Hunter and Vince Perrotta of the Forestry Board. A total of 15 trees were identified with general and specific characteristics explained and hands-on examination of each.

Dawne Howard
David Hunter
Vince Perotta

Wood characteristics and uses were explained by Board members Steve Thrasher and Tom Anderson. Through the use “tree cookies”, two inches or so thick tree disk samples complete with bark. These showed the color, smell, texture, growth rings, and damage in some cases of 14 different trees.

Steve Thrasher
Tom Anderson

Leaf samples of these trees were also presented and discussed. Samples of many types of wood were examined. One sample showed the devastation caused by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer.

Strength, weakness and uses of the wood were also discussed and demonstrated. The Scouts enthusiastically jumped up and down on wood samples to show the strength and weakness characteristics of some of the samples. It had been previously noted by a City dwelling Scout that he had never seen the inside of a tree before.

Forester stage activities were handled by Maryland DNR Forester Mike Kay. He explained the duties performed by and forester, detailed the educational requirements to become a forester and demonstrated, using his tools of the trade, some of his duties performed throughout the year. He detailed resources available to Scouts that might have interestin this career field.

Watershed Management duties were explained and demonstrated by DNR Forester Sean Weaver. Sean had a very well planned and executed presentation. He started by explaining what a watershed is and then has a brief interactive session with the Scouts where they identified the borders of the Frederick Watershed. He explained his duties as a manager, his firefighting responsibilities and the destructive potential of fire as well as the benefits of fire in certain conditions.

He brought a variety of firefighting tools and support equipment and explained their use. Sean also discussed the destructive nature of invasive plants and insects. He brought examples of Hemlock wooly adelgid and emerald ash borer damage. For his finale, Sean had a tree planting session where Scouts were shown how and then planted tree seedlings.

Forest Ecology was presented by Jonathan Kays, Extension Forester, University of Maryland Extension. Principal Agent.

Ecology consisted of first a general awareness of the location of the land in relation to surrounding areas… The general slope of the land was discussed and what could be learned of the history of the land by observation. Location of nearby water courses was noted. Examples of probable past history were noted. One of these was observing rock piles that could be indicative of previous use of the land for pasturing and the clearing and piling of rocks by former land users.

The area observed would typically be an Oak and Hickory forest. It was mostly Hickory and Beech The kinds or trees and their composition in the under story and over story and their relationship to each other indicated a probable previous tree harvest of mostly the Oak species.. It was explained how the sample data could be expanded to larger areas of the forest. Collecting of this information about the forest flora, fauna, soil conditions and quality was explained towards their uses in forest management.

Scouts getting digging bars to plant trees

Typical data collection was then performed by individual groups of Scouts This allowed them to measure, see, feel and smell the forest conditions The data the Scouts collected was then summarized, analyzed, and explained. This allowed the Scouts to experienced, understand the forest condition and the importance of such things as soil condition, composition and water runoff or absorption. The over browsing by deer, insect damage and potential for erosion was also apparent to the participants.

Scouts planting a variety of trees

The overall condition of the ecosystem of the analyzed portion of the forest, the value of silviculture and sustainable forestry were very well illustrated.

Members of the presentation team were Maryland DNR Foresters Mike Kay and Sean Weaver. Jonathan Kays. Extension Forester, University of Maryland Extension. Principal Agent and Forestry Board members, Steve Thrasher, Tom Anderson, Dawn Howard, David Hunter, Vince Perrotta and Jim Arnold. Forestry Board member Claude Eans provided liaison with the Scouts, observed the presentations, took photographs and where needed assisted the presenters for the Merit Badge Day event.

May 12, 2018

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