At the General Tire REDCREST 2023 Outdoor Sports Expo Presented by Shore Lunch, the Major League Fishing Fisheries Management Division in Partnership with Berkley Labs – along with the support of Ferguson – provided the opportunity for 24 scouts to earn their Fish and Wildlife Management merit badge.
Earning a merit badge is a time-honored tradition for the Boy Scouts of America. To earn a merit badge, a scout must work with an approved merit badge counselor to research the topic and then show that they have an in-depth understanding of the subject by completing a detailed checklist of activities.
The scouts had to complete eight activities throughout the expo:
To accomplish these activities, MLF FMD enlisted the help of Berkley Labs, North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the American Eagle Foundation, Mecklenburg County Council Boy Scouts, Ferguson, MinnKota, MossBack Fish Habitat, and our MLF FMD directors Gary Klein and Steven Bardin. Each group played a specific role in classroom education, creating the service project, and providing insight into career paths in fish and wildlife management.
On March 11, each cadet received a detailed schedule of activities that included 30-minute time blocks or where to gain the knowledge they needed to earn their merit badges. Lectures took place within the Ferguson MLF FMD booth and on the Optima Stage.
The topics for lectures included fish anatomy, fish identification, species classification, fisheries sampling methods, using MLF angler data as a creel survey tool, habitat restoration, artificial habitat use, and how anglers can contribute to management. The scouts also had time allotted to being in NCWRC, SCDNR, American Eagle Foundation, and Berkley Labs for researching career opportunities.
For their service project, the scouts built line recycling tubes that were donated to the NCWRC and SCDNR at the end of the weekend. The materials for creating the tubes were donated by Ferguson. They were able to complete 75 tubes throughout the weekend using the instructions found here. Chris Pitsilos, Brand Marketing-Category Manager, Line for Berkley joined MLF FMD for an in-class conversation on the line manufacturing process plus the Berkley Labs commitment to promoting the recycling of fishing line.