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Proposed Waterfowl and Wetlands Boy Scout Merit Badge
Tracy Price is a man on a mission. A member of Communication Workers Local 3611 in Raleigh, N.C., he’s also a cub scout master and boy scout merit badge coordinator who wants the Boy Scouts of America to approve a new waterfowl and wetlands conservation merit badge. And he’s not alone; he has strong support for his proposal from representatives of Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Price is a self-taught duck hunting fanatic who, by his own admission, went through a great deal of trial and error and lots of hard work before becoming a successful waterfowl hunter. Like so many hunters before him, Price learned about and was amazed by the incredible story of North America’s waterfowl. It’s a story of nearly biblical proportions.
In the beginning, there was a waterfowl paradise with unimaginable numbers of birds. Then market hunting, habitat destruction, and unregulated greed nearly decimated the continent’s waterfowl. Then as waterfowl populations and their habitats hung in the balance teetering on the edge of the abyss, sportsmen and -women stepped up and resolved to save and restore our wetlands and waterfowl and redeemed the paradise that was nearly lost. All of us, whether hunters or not, are heirs to the legacy they left us and are responsible for passing it on to future generations for their safe keeping.
Price wants a new generation to know the story and to get involved in waterfowl and wetlands conservation because he knows that if kids learn about it and become involved, whether they become hunters or not, they will be lifelong advocates for waterfowl and for all wildlife and conservation. And just maybe they’ll enlist others along the way.
"I take ever opportunity I get to open a new set of eyes and put a bug in an ear of anybody I think might be interested in ducks and duck hunting, especially kids," Price said with missionary zeal and the enthusiasm of a true believer.
The merit badge Price proposed to the Boy Scouts of America, with input from waterfowl biologists and other professional conservationists, is not as simple as building a wood duck box, identifying a half a dozen species and visiting a refuge. The badge he proposed entails a serious commitment from the scout seeking to earn it. The scout must successfully address more than 20 areas of interest including: the history of market hunting, lead versus steel shot, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the threat of invasive species to waterfowl production and habitat. It involves reading and research, on the ground study and field work, familiarizing oneself with maps and migration routes and writing at least one paper.