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 Choosing, Researching and Developing Your Project

Each project should be unique to the Scout who chooses it. 


Lasting: Choose a project that will produce a result for others to enjoy far into the future. This does not limit the project exclusively to construction efforts. For example, an Energy Conservation program with Habitat for Humanity that involves developing a curriculum and providing materials for people to teach a course in Energy Conservation would certainly fit this requirement.

Significant: A Hornaday project is more than an Eagle project. An Eagle project is typically a short-term effort that requires some pre-planning and minimal after project work. The project may take from 100-200 hours on average. Hornaday projects require extensive pre-planning and a good deal of after project work, taking up to 400 hours to complete. Thus, Candidates should choose a project that is not too limited. Planting some trees one day is definitely not sufficient.

Education: The chosen project should teach conservation practices to others. Though this can be as easy as speaking about the project to the crew for ten minutes at lunch, at least one of the Bronze or Silver Medal projects should include a major education component. The education part could be the entire project or just a significant component.

Age: The number of hours that one is expected to spend on each project increases with age, as does the complexity of the project. For Candidates thirteen to sixteen years of age, 200-300 hours per project are recommended. For Candidates sixteen to eighteen, 300-400 hours are recommended. Venturing Candidates (eighteen to twenty one) should expect to spend 400-500 hours per project or submit an additional project (making it five total for the Silver Medal). We recommend trying to stay within the age range guidelines as expected complexity jumps when the Candidate turns sixteen and eighteen.

This general hours guide also corresponds with an increasing cone of complexity. Venturing Candidates’ projects should be significantly more complex in their design as well as taking more time to complete. The National Hornaday Committee judges projects as if they were completed shortly before the application was submitted. Thus, for a Scout or Venturer planning on taking more than three or so years to complete his or her projects, he or she should make the first project especially significant so that it will stand the test of time until the project is submitted.

Scientific Method: The project development process must follow the scientific method. This does not mean that a hypothesis must be made and tested, rather, it suggests that the Candidate should identify a problem in the community, complete background research, propose a research intention or question, develop a procedure,complete the procedure, identify the results, discuss the conclusions, identify future impacts, and suggest alternative and additional projects. These parts of the method should be clearly identified in the write-up.

Research: The Hornaday project is expected to be extremely conservation sound.That means extensive background research should be conducted. Expect to contact and speak with at least ten professionals (many of them physically, not simply finding information on the Internet) in the conservation related field of each project. These professionals should help the Candidate plan the project and the individuals should be consulted regularly throughout the completion phase of the effort. Keep track of the people with whom you speak. You are responsible for logging all time both you and others spend on this project and for properly thanking them when the effort is complete.

Proposal and Approval
In the project proposal, the Candidate should briefly outline the following basic ideas:

  • Who: Who is the benefiting organization? Who is doing the work? Who is advising you in this project?
  • What: What is the work? What difference will the project make?
  • When: Estimate the time when the project will begin and end.
  • Where: Where will all work take place?
  • Why: Describe why this project is needed.
  • How: Give a few sentence description of the project plan describing some basic project milestones. How will the project continue into the future? 


Though you cannot do the project with this simple information completed, at this
point, both the Conservation Advisor and Benefiting Organization should approve your plan. This should be completed in a written manner, either via e-mail or through a written signature.

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