Approximately 300 Boy Scouts from western Illinois and eastern Iowa will gather at Monmouth College on March 15 to hone their skills during a day-long Merit Badge University.
This is the third year that Monmouth College has hosted the Boy Scouts of America’s annual conference for boys working toward their Eagle Scout rank by earning merit badges. For the first year, most of the activities will be held in the college’s new Center for Science and Business. Since the college’s inaugural MBU in 2012, attendance has increased by more than 100 Scouts.
Among the 36 instructors are five Monmouth College faculty and staff – Tom Best (American heritage), Wendi Bolon (personal management), Jeff Rankin (citizenship in the community), Tim Tibbetts (citizenship in the world) and Craig Vivian (chess).
Tibbetts is an Eagle Scout, as are two of the MC students instructing – Nick Mainz (coin collecting and stamp collecting) and Jacob Marx (aviation). Marx will be accompanied by his father, a maintenance specialist at O’Hare International Airport. A group of Monmouth physics students will lead sessions on space exploration and electricity.
Another MC staff member, Kathy Mainz, helps to organize the event in her role as chair of the local MBU committee.
“In order for a Scout to earn a badge, they explore their interest with an adult who is an expert in that area,” she said. “Our merit badge counselors will work with small groups of Scouts and guide them through a booklet of information on their particular topic.”
In addition to providing a way for Scouts from across the region to get together, Merit Badge University provides a form of one-stop shopping. It would normally take several field trips by the individual troops involved for their Scouts to be able to get some of the badges being offered. For example, automotive maintenance and plumbing – traditionally difficult badges to complete – are available thanks to the cooperation of the service department of Cavanaughs’ Motors and Monmouth plumber Ken St. George. Also assisting from the Monmouth community will be Lenard Bolon (welding), the Monmouth Police Department (crime prevention and fingerprinting) and the Monmouth Fire Department (first aid).
Scouts who visit the Galesburg Railroad Museum will be eligible to receive a railroading badge, and the Mercer County Genealogy Society will assist with the genealogy badge. Western Illinois University will be represented by Steve and Sarah Bennett (geology), George Hartmann (photography) and Barry Witten (citizenship in the nation).
Also coming to campus from Macomb will be Chris Adam, who works at the McDonough County Health Department and is an Eagle Scout. He will serve as an instructor for the public health badge. Macomb’s Ray Majeres, a knot master, will lead one of the Adult Scouter education opportunities.
Witten, who serves as chairman of Inali District, which includes Warren, McDonough, Knox and Stark Counties, said, “The district is very appreciative of Monmouth College for their efforts in staging this event."
A co-sponsor of Merit Badge University, the college’s office of admission will conduct campus tours during the day.