The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

July 24, 2013

Mining merit badge to launch in 2014

THE SUMMIT — After years of absence, the Mining in Society merit badge will launch again in February 2014, and count Steve Gardner among those embracing the move.

Gardner, slated to be president of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration in 2015, was among those on hand Monday at the Mining in Society merit badge tent at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve during the 2013 National Scout Jamboree.

Gardner and others answered questions and explained what will be involved with the new mining merit badge, which will focus on such areas as sustainability, safety, reclamation, geology, exploration, permitting and careers.

Mining “was one of the original Boy Scout merit badges,” Gardner explained. Mining was a merit badge from 1911 to 1937, before it was discontinued and gave way to rocks and minerals then to geology.

Gardner, a consulting engineer who resides in Lexington, Ky.,  is a member of a committee that “started the initiative over 10 years ago to reinstate” the mining in society badge.

Over $200,000 was raised by the SME’s foundation from individuals and businesses toward the effort, Gardner said.

The merit badge and the Scouts being more exposed to the mining industry again may help toward “changing the image” of mining, Gardner said.

“We’re mining-proud,” he added, saying, “We look at everything (mining-related), not just coal.”

The process to have mining reinstated has included contributions from many, including a SME sub-committee that did a lot of the grunt work. “We were at the last Jamboree gauging interest in (the mining merit badge) and had to prove to the Boy Scouts that there was enough interest.”

“I’m excited,” Gardner said. “I wish I’d had the opportunity (for a mining merit badge) when I was a kid.

“I talked to a group of kids from Long Island, N.Y., today, and they were fascinated.”

For more information, visit www.smenet.org or mineralseducationcoalition.org.

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