WEF Members Spread the Word About Water During the 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree

September 27, 2017

WEF Resources & Efforts

During the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree, Boy Scouts from South Dakota and Minnesota helped install a rain garden at the Beckley (W.Va.) Convention Center . Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) photo/Caroline Pakenham.

During the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree, Boy Scouts from South Dakota and Minnesota helped install a rain garden at the Beckley (W.Va.) Convention Center. Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) photo/Caroline Pakenham.

In July, more than 30,000 Boy Scouts and their leaders from across the country converged in West Virginia for the National Boy Scout Jamboree. The event allows scouts to participate in outdoor activities and leadership training. It’s also an opportunity to give back to local communities.

Pitching in for greening service projects

During the 2017 Jamboree, thousands of Boy Scouts participated in service projects scattered across West Virginia. One project was a 666-m2 (7200-ft2) rain garden on the grounds of the Beckley (W.Va.) Convention Center.

Boy Scouts work together to move soil in preparation to place plants in the rain garden. WEF photo/Caroline Pakenham.

Boy Scouts work together to move soil in preparation to place plants in the rain garden. WEF photo/Caroline Pakenham.

On July 21, two Boy Scout troops from South Dakota and Minnesota arrived at the project site to help install the rain garden. The scouts spent the day moving soil and gravel, installing 374 plants, and adding mulch to the site.

The project’s goal is to improve water quality and reduce flooding that has plagued the Beckley Little League fields near the convention center. As community groups and leaders developed plans for the project, they decided to schedule rain garden construction to coincide with the jamboree.

“The project is part of a long-term vision to clean up Piney Creek by treating the polluted runoff coming from the convention center parking lot while also reducing the volume of runoff that contributes to flooding,” said David Stewart, director of the Piney Creek Watershed Association (Beckley, W.Va.). “It was important to involve the scouts for multiple reasons, but primarily it was to demonstrate green infrastructure initiatives in action in a community.”

WEF staff member Caroline Pakenham (center) holds the plans for the rain garden with WEF members Jim Condon (left) and Carl Jason (right). Photo courtesy of David Stewart, director of the Piney Creek Watershed Association (Beckley, W.Va.).

WEF staff member Caroline Pakenham (center) holds the plans for the rain garden with WEF members Jim Condon (left) and Carl Janson (right). Photo courtesy of David Stewart, director of the Piney Creek Watershed Association (Beckley, W.Va.).

Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) members also pitched in. Jim Condon from the Nebraska Water Environment Association and Carl Janson from the Pennsylvania Water Environment Association made the trek to West Virginia to assist with the rain garden installation and to provide education on the importance of green infrastructure projects.

“While the Boy Scouts provided the labor, WEF volunteers were teaching the scouts about the value of water and why water is treated,” Condon said. “They were instructed in where water goes after it goes down the drain, why treatment is important, and specifically about the treatment needed for stormwater to be discharged back to the environment.”

Spreading the message about water

WEF members Jim Condon (back, third from right) and Carl Jason (back, second from right) used the project as an opportunity to educate about the importance of green infrastructure projects and community service as well as about careers in the water sector. WEF photo/Caroline Pakenham

WEF members Jim Condon (back, third from right) and Carl Janson (back, second from right) used the project as an opportunity to educate about the importance of green infrastructure projects and community service as well as about careers in the water sector. WEF photo/Caroline Pakenham

Working with the Boy Scouts also was an opportunity for Condon and Janson to stress the importance of community service and career opportunities in the water sector.

“I am an Eagle Scout and have always appreciated the values stressed in scouting with service to others, importance of valuing resources, and the skills taught and learned about leadership,” said Janson. “We can reach many of these future leaders by participating in events like the Boy Scout Jamboree.”

Boy Scouts worked together to install 374 plants in a rain garden that will help improve local water quality and reduce flooding. WEF photo/Caroline Pakenham.

Boy Scouts worked together to install 374 plants in a rain garden that will help improve local water quality and reduce flooding. WEF photo/Caroline Pakenham.

The Boy Scouts also worked beside more than a dozen employees of the Beckley Sanitation District and representatives of Thrasher Engineering (Clarksburg, W.Va.). Both groups helped guide the scouts through rain garden installation and provided invaluable insight on all the prep work that occurred before the installation day.

“The Boy Scouts had great energy and enthusiasm and were able to accomplish a significant amount of work in a short period of time,” Condon said.  “The scouts were eager to help and got to work almost immediately with minimal instruction.”

Completing service project requires far-reaching collaboration

A group made of two Boy Scouts troops and volunteers from WEF, Beckley Sanitation District, and Thrasher Engineering (Clarksburg, W.Va.) helped install the 666 m2 (7200 ft2) rain garden. WEF photo/Caroline Pakenham.

A group made of two Boy Scouts troops and volunteers from WEF, Beckley Sanitation District, and Thrasher Engineering (Clarksburg, W.Va.) helped install the 666-m2 (7200-ft2) rain garden. WEF photo/Caroline Pakenham.

Building the rain garden at the Beckley Convention Center required planning, persistence, and hard work. More than a dozen organizations came together to plan and execute the rain garden.

Stewart enjoyed working with all the groups involved and recognized the vast amount of effort put into ensuring the project was completed on time. “The main thing I learned is just how powerful an impact a group of people can have on a community,” Stewart said. “This project was one of hundreds of projects in southern West Virginia. The completion of these projects will have a lasting impact on the community.”

The completed rain garden was designed to help clean up and prevent flooding of Piney Creek in West Virginia. WEF photo/Caroline Pakenham.

The completed rain garden was designed to help prevent flooding of Piney Creek in West Virginia. It also helps keep the creek clean. WEF photo/Caroline Pakenham.

The Piney Creek Watershed Association, Beckley Sanitary Board, Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, Boy Scouts of America (Irving, Texas), Thrasher Engineering, WEF, West Virginia Water Environment Association, Green River Landscaping and Garden Center (Daniels, W.Va.), Appalachian Aggregates (Lewisburg, W.Va.), Luck Stone (Richmond, Va.), Rish Equipment (Bluefield, W.Va.), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection all played integral roles in making the rain garden project a reality.

— Caroline Pakenham, WEF Highlights

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