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What is the William T. Hornaday Award?

Conservationist Dr. William Temple Hornaday led the charge in keeping the American bison from going extinct. The first director of the New York Zoological Park (known today as the Bronx Zoo) also established the Wildlife Protection Medal to inspire more Americans to save and preserve this country’s animals. After Hornaday’s death in 1937, the medal was named after him and became a BSA award.

The award includes a few tiers: badge, bronze medal, silver medal, gold badge and gold medal. Venturers and Scouts who have reached First Class rank can earn any of the first three, while the gold badge and gold medal are designated for adults, who must be nominated for one after years of environmental service. Certificates are also available for groups.

The Hornaday Awards are highly prized by those who have received them: Approximately 1,100 medals have been awarded over the past 80 years. These awards represent a substantial commitment of time and energy by individuals who have learned the meaning of a conservation/environmental ethic.

Any Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or Venturer willing to devote the time and energy to work on a project based on sound scientific principles and guided by a conservation professional or a well-versed layperson can qualify for one of the Hornaday Awards. The awards often take months to complete, so activities should be planned well in advance.

The fundamental purpose of the Hornaday Awards program is to encourage learning by the participants and to increase public awareness about natural resource conservation. Understanding and practicing sound stewardship of natural resources and environmental protection strengthens Scouting’s emphasis on respecting the outdoors.

The goal of this awards program is to encourage and recognize truly outstanding efforts undertaken by Scouting units, Scouts and Venturers, adult Scouters, and other individuals, corporations, and institutions that have contributed significantly to natural resource conservation and environmental protection.

Certified Hornaday Award Advisors

What types of projects qualify?

For a Troop project, it must be well-planned, address an important conservation problem, have at least 60% of the youth participating, be well-documented, be similar to an Eagle Project only done by a troop project team, and (typically) represent about 500 total person hours of contact work.

Conservation projects can and should utilize a conservation project advisor who is qualified in conservation work and will guide and monitor the project. 


The approved conservation categories include the following areas:

  • Soil & Water Conservation
  • Fish & Wildlife Management
  • Energy Conservation
  • Air & Water Pollution Control
  • Resource Recovery (Recycling)
  • Forestry & Range Management
  • Invasive Species Control
  • Hazardous Material Disposal & Management


The project’s primary purpose is to benefit the environment (“Mother Nature” and “Mother Nature’s Way”).


Scouts cannot use hazardous materials or substances OR work with dangerous tools or equipment in doing their project.  Close supervision, safety, and youth protection are required at all times.

For more information about earning the William T Hornaday Award as a Unit or Individual, please click here.