State lawmakers recently welcomed Boy Scout troops from across Georgia to celebrate 100 years of scouting during Boy Scouts of America Day at the Georgia State Capitol.
Representatives of the Department of Natural Resources were also on hand to announce the “Scouting for State Parks” initiative that will engage thousands of scouts and volunteers to help maintain Georgia’s state parks.
Each year, Sen. Chip Pearson, R-Dawsonville, and Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, along with other legislators involved in scouting, host the troops at the State Capitol for the day and formally recognize them in the Senate and House chambers with a special resolution.
“The Boy Scouts are an integral part of every community they serve. As an Eagle Scout and board member of the Northeast Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America, I’ve had a unique opportunity to see first-hand the level of dedication the organization, its scouts and volunteers bring to each project,” said Pearson.
“I look forward to seeing how our state parks benefit under this partnership. Parks are a vital part of Georgia’s communities and of our state’s tourism industry.”
Each of Georgia’s 13 Scout chapters, or councils, has committed to undertaking a large-scale service project for a local state park throughout this year. Georgia state parks have suffered from painful budget cuts due to severe declines in state income. Maintenance and improvement projects have been put on hold, while cuts have been made to staff and public resources.
Through this partnership, state parks will receive maintenance and care at no additional cost to taxpayers by enlisting many of Georgia’s 200,000 Scouts, volunteers and alumni.
The initiative has received strong bi-partisan support from Georgia’s state lawmakers.
Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, the only Georgia state senator to receive the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, offered his encouragement to the Boy Scouts and state park staff to take pride that their partnership will benefit thousands of Georgians across the state.
“For 100 years, Scouts have served Georgia’s communities,” said Scouting’s Georgia State President Scott Sorrels. “Now, during Scouting’s Centennial, we’re focusing our resources like never before to address a critical need - the budget crisis in our state parks.”
National author and Scouting advocate Alvin Townley was instrumental in helping develop the program. “We saw our state and its magnificent park system in trouble and we realized Scouting has 200,000 youth and adult volunteers here in Georgia who can help,” he explained.
To learn more about Scouting for State Parks, visit www.ScoutingForStateParks.org.