Spencer Burke ’22 and Baxter Perry-Miller ’24 have earned the rarest award bestowed by the Boy Scouts of America; the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal. Since 1975, there have been only 168 William T. Hornaday Silver Medalists. Spencer and Baxter are among those final recipients of the William T. Hornaday Award conservation program, which ended in June 2021. The Boy Scouts reintroduced the conservation program and awards under the name Distinguished Conservation Service Award.
“This has been a truly rewarding experience and I am so proud of each of my impactful projects,” Baxter said. “It was very meaningful to have the support from St. Mark’s, from the staff to students and friends who all contributed with all of this Award’s requirements.”
To earn the Award, Spencer and Baxter each had to conceptualize, manage, and complete four separate Distinguished Conservation Service Award projects. The projects not only involved a significant amount of thought and time to develop and execute, but also required a considerable amount of coordination with scientists, organizations, and volunteers.
“This Award not only represents my work but the work of countless brilliant volunteers who contributed thousands of hours,” Spencer said. “To me, it represents having a goal, working towards it, and finally succeeding and reaching that goal.”
Baxter’s projects included resource recovery at The Trinity River Audubon Center, a city-wide battery disposal drive, bobwhite quail conservation at Lake Lewisville, and constructing an apiary at Bonton Farms in South Dallas. Spencer’s projects included designing, constructing, and installing 100 solitary bee nesting boxes across Dallas parks and nature preserves, removing invasive plants and planting native grasses and wildflowers at Twelve Hills Nature Center, establishing pollinator habitats along the Northaven Trail, and giving educational presentations about pollinator decline, and incubating, brooding, banding and releasing hundreds of Northern Bobwhite Quail into the endangered Blackland Prairie. Additionally, as an Eagle Scout with 23 Palms and all available Merit Badge, Spencer has earned every award the Scouts offer.
“During the past two and a half years, I’ve encountered COVID, had people say ‘no,’ and other obstacles block my path, but I continued to pursue each project one at a time,” Baxter said. “I took the Boy Scout motto to heart which says to ‘be prepared’. It’s important to have a plan and know that when that the plan changes, there is always a way to continue forward.”