Volume 54(2) - 2013 - DOI:  10.5032/jae.2013.02070



Badges of Merit have been a primary component of Scouting programs since the inception of the movement more than 100 years ago.  The diverse range of subjects for merit badges has included 32 programs relating directly to agriculture.  The focus of this historical research was to identify when agriculturally related merit badges were introduced, describe changes made to these programs since their introduction, and to determine their popularity with Scouts.  Records reveal that merit badges on a variety of agricultural subjects such as beef cattle production, rabbit raising, gardening, landscaping, agribusiness, and agricultural mechanics have been offered by Boy Scouts of America (BSA) since before the founding of the National FFA Organization or passage of the Smith-Hughes Act.  Forestry and Soil and Water Management have been the two most popular agriculturally related merit badges, while Animal Science and Plant Science are among the least popular of all merit badges offered currently.  It is recommended that agricultural educators support these merit badge programs and help facilitate their offering to BSA members.  This study provides the foundation for further investigation into the promotion of agricultural literacy through BSA and other organizations not normally associated with agricultural education.

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