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ASLA Member Leads Boy Scouts of America in Landscape Architecture Merit Badge

Congratulations Scouts! (Photo Credit/Left: Ken Laxton and Landscape Architecture Merit Badge awardees)

The Boy Scouts of America offers 137 Merit Badges for Scouts to earn for rank advancement, to teach Scouts new skills to prepare them for life, and to expose Scouts to subjects that may interest them for life-long careers or new hobbies. The advancement in rank and the earning of merit badges is the responsibility of the Scout. Some Boy Scout Troops organize merit badge classes, and many merit badges are earned during week-long summer camps. Scouts range in age from 11 to just-under 18.

In 2011, the Inland Northwest Council began STEM Merit Badge University, an event offering 25 to 30 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) related merit badge classes. Volunteers in the community who work in related professions or are otherwise knowledgeable in the merit badge subject teach the classes. Landscape Architecture is one of these STEM merit badges offered at STEM Merit Badge University.

The Scouts meet twice, once in mid-September and in mid-November. Each merit badge is offered at four session times each Saturday, giving the Scouts the opportunity to earn four different merit badges. The Scouts have two months to work on the merit badge requirements that were not completed in the first class. Eight scouts completed the Landscape Architecture Merit Badge this year.

To earn the Landscape Architecture Merit Badge (created in 1967) a Scout is required to accomplish the following:
  1. Visit a site designed by a landscape architect, and if available, with a copy of the design drawing.
  2. Answer questions that cause the scout to think about the site’s design elements.
  3. Learn about five trees, five shrubs, and one ground cover, and describe how a landscape architect would implement them in a design.
  4. Measure a small site and create a to-scale site plan and note on the drawing basic site inventory elements, then redesign the site how they would like.
  5. Find out about three career opportunities in landscape architecture, then select one of interest and find out the education, training and experience required for this profession. 
STEM Merit Badge University classes present the Scouts with an overview of landscape architecture. This includes numerous before and after photos of landscapes, which excite get the Scouts, and their parents who attend, about landscape architecture. The Scouts are provided with copies of Landscape Architecture Magazine and other trade magazines. This year Scouts received a copy of ASLA’s educational publication, YOUR LAND. The Scouts are also provided with grid paper for their site inventory and design work requirement, and a list of plant options to get them started on the plant requirement.

For more information on the Landscape Architecture Merit Badge and how you can get involved in Scouting and be a merit badge counselor, contact your local Council Office.

For the Landscape Architecture Merit Badge requirements, visit: https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/Merit_Badge_ReqandRes/Landscape_Arch.pdf

Contributed by Ken Laxton, ASLA, an Eagle Scout, father of two Eagle Scouts, and a landscape architect with Environment West, Inc. a Design-Build firm in Spokane, Washington, and has been teaching this merit badge at STEM Merit Badge University since it was first offered in 2013. For more information on STEM Merit Badge University, visit: https://scoutingevent.com/611-STEMMBU

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