Eagle Scout Baxter Perry-Miller ’24 is on a mission to clean up the planet and, in the process, hopes to achieve one of Scouting’s most prestigious achievements. He is already among rare company as the recipient of a William T. Hornady Medal, which the Boy Scouts of America describes as “an Olympic Medal Bestowed by the Earth.” Baxter received the Medal after earning a number of environmental-themed merit badges and then leading a significant conservation project at the Trinity River Audubon. Now, Baxter is well on his way to earning a second medal for spearheading a battery collection drive across Dallas.
As he was thinking about a second conservation project, Baxter tossed some used batteries in the trash and suddenly wondered what happens to them. “Batteries are something I subconsciously knew I shouldn’t toss out, but I didn’t really know why or what else to do about it.”
Through research, Baxter learned how harmful used batteries can be for the earth. When they arrive at landfills, batteries leak dangerous chemicals, like lithium and alkaline, which seep into the soil and groundwater.
Now, Baxter is spearheading a battery recycling program, starting right here at St. Mark’s. Teaming up with environmental science teacher Dan Northcut ’81, Baxter placed his first battery recycling bin in St. Mark’s faculty workroom. The bin also provides a flyer with more information about batteries and the environment.
“These batteries contain lots of material that don’t exist in nature and shouldn’t just be tossed into landfills,” said Mr. Northcut. “Batteries are toxic materials and it’s important to the planet that we find a place to dispose of them properly.”
Baxter plans to distribute recycling bins to about a dozen local schools, churches, and hardware stores. The collected batteries will be taken to the Dallas County Home Chemical Collection Center, where they will be broken down and either recycled or transported to a special hazardous material landfill.
“Conservation really interests me because I have been involved in several conservation projects in my lifetime,” Baxter said. “I have always cared about the outdoors and loved nature, and I enjoy finding solutions to conservation issues.”
Once the battery conservation project is complete, Baxter will receive his second Hornaday Medal. Fewer than 1,200 total Hornady medals have been awarded since 1917. Baxter is already setting his sights on the prestigious Hornaday Silver Medal, awarded for completing nine environmental merit badges and four significant conservation projects. Fewer than 120 Scouts have received the Silver Medal.