Local Boy Scout Troop receives rare conservation award

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SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)–A local Boy Scout Troop has received a prestigious award for their conservation efforts in Walton County.

Back in 2019, Troop 562 embarked on a mission to clean up parts of Grayton Beach State Park, ultimately removing a couple hundred yards of an old boardwalk.

“We transported all that wood out to the dumpsters and everything. Now, there’s no sign of the old boardwalk. There’s a new boardwalk that has been recently built and there’s no trash or wood,” said Brighton Cardenas, the Troop Leader.

The troop collectively clocked in more than 170 total hours restoring the land around Western Lake.

“It’s great for these guys to be able to get out in the community, perform service projects, and then to be recognized with a national award is very special for us,” said Brian Farmer, Scout Master.

Their hard work at the park earned them the WT Hornaday Distinguished Conservation Service Unit Award.

“It goes to a troop that has over 60% participation in a local conservation or environmental service project,” Farmer said.

Troop leaders say receiving the award isn’t common.

“It is very rare. Only 25 troops earned that award last year in all of the United States,” said Samantha McInnis, the Vice President of Membership for the Gulf Coast Council.

Troop 562 is only the second troop in the Gulf Coast Council to receive the award in the last 80 years.

“It’s a good feeling because you know you made a difference in the environment and with what everyone else can do,” Cardenas said.

The Scouts celebrated the accomplishment with friends and family at St. Rita’s Parish Monday night.

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