By Mike Manyak, Med’92
The Boy Scouts of America’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) initiative is designed to encourage the natural curiosity of youth members about these fields.
Scouts are given an opportunity to explore relevant occupations and experiences with the aim of helping them develop skills critical for the competitive world market.
National Eagle Scouts Association is working to increase exposure of Eagle Scouts to the world of exploration through the NESA World Explorer Program under the direction of NESA VP Dr. Michael Manyak MED ’92 and NESA Director C. William Steele FN ’79.
The practice of sending an Eagle to a remote location dates to Paul Siple who accompanied the first Byrd Antarctic expedition in 1928 and later became an Explorers Club Fellow. His experience stimulated a lifetime of polar scientific research during which he developed the wind chill factor index still in use today. Eagle Scouts have gone to Antarctica under National Science Foundation and other organizational guidance 12 times prior to the initiation of this project, most recently in 2006.
In 2012 an Eagle Scout and future leader in marine science chosen after a rigorous national search accompanied Dr. Robert Ballard MED ’78 to explore the mysteries of the Black Sea as part of the JASON Project. This first Eagle Scout Oceanographer has been followed by another Eagle in 2013 who accompanied Dr. Ballard to the Caribbean.
The program has now been expanded and NESA sent an Eagle Scout Astronomer in 2013 to the creation of the largest telescope in the world in Arizona and an Eagle Scout Polar Explorer to the Antarctic with Sir Robert Swan FN ’86, a leading Antarctican conservationist and the first to walk both poles.
In addition to these two programs in 2014, an Eagle Scout Biologist is joining the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the eastern Ecuador Yasuni Reserve in the Amazon to work on the camera trap project to document the wildlife in this fascinating location.
In 2015, the addition of further such exploration opportunities will include Arctic conservation as well as paleoanthropology in South Africa at one of the most exciting discovery sites in the world with Dr. Lee Berger FI ’13, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Further sites in the Galapagos for conservation and eastern Africa for cultural anthropology are under evaluation.
These endeavors are providing a bridge to the next generation of explorers by stimulating interest in exploration and providing exposure to The Explorers Club. Over a million scouts and their families are now becoming more aware of possibilities for exploration. Of note, every one of these young explorers in the NESA World Explorer Program has expressed significant interest or has already joined The Explorers Club.