More than 180 Boy Scouts from western Illinois and eastern Iowa will gather at Monmouth College on March 17 to hone their skills during a day-long Merit Badge University.
The college recently reached an agreement with the Boy Scouts of America to serve as a permanent host of the annual conference, which is for boys who are working toward their Eagle Scout rank by earning merit badges. The scouts are from the Medicine Lodge District of the Illowa Council. Many of the young men will eventually become Eagle Scouts.
“All scouts will work on one merit badge selected from an identified list of 20-25 merit badges that are possible to complete in one day,” said MC staff member Kathy Mainz, who is helping to organize the event in her role as chair of the local Merit Badge University committee. “Most sessions will be held in the college’s Haldeman-Thiessen Science Center, and some others will be held at off-campus locations in Monmouth.”
A merit badge indicates competency in a certain subject area, ranging from first aid to topics such as law or nuclear energy.
“In order for a scout to earn a badge, they explore their interest with an adult who is an expert in that area,” said Mainz. “Our merit badge counselors will work with small groups of scouts and guide them through a booklet of information on their particular topic.”
Boys attending will be accompanied by 40 adults from three counties in Iowa and seven counties in Illinois. Monmouth College faculty and staff who will serve as instructors include Germain Badang (world citizenship), Tom Best (American heritage), Steve Bloomer (leadership), Chris Fasano (electricity), Tyler Hennings (art and architecture), Ken McMillan (public speaking), Tim Stiles (electricity), Brad Sturgeon (chemistry) and Tim Tibbetts (orienteering).
“Asking faculty to take most of their Saturday is a large commitment of time and energy, but it’s so worth it,” said Mainz. “I’ve been delighted to work with these young men for the past seven years. They are a remarkable group.”
Mainz reported that representatives from the Monmouth Police Department, Cavanaughs Motors, St. George Plumbing and George Hartmann Photography will also lead workshops.
The Medicine Lodge District has previously sponsored the program at Western Illinois University.
“Now it’s our turn to show off Monmouth College’s great facilities and programs, and maybe recruit some of these students, who have a superior work ethic and great academic credentials,” said Mainz, who also serves as the district’s roundtable commissioner.
The office of admission will conduct campus tours, provide a lunch and introduce its new Eagle Scout Scholarship, a $2,500 renewable annual award scholarship available to any entering freshmen who have received the Eagle Scout Award or Venturing Silver Award.