SAVANNAH, Ga. – A group of 275 scouts representing seven states explored potential career paths in STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—during the annual Coastal Empire Council Boy Scouts of America Summerfest, July 22.
Members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District staffed an exhibit at Summerfest demonstrating the functions of wetlands and the importance of regulating them.
"We emphasize that wetlands are important for water quality and water supply, and that they filter water and control flooding," said Bill Rutlin, a regulatory specialist with the Corps' Regulatory Division. "We let people know that activities in wetlands require a permit, and that it's our job to balance wetland conservation with human development."
The Regulatory Division oversees permitting for construction or other development projects that would impact streams and wetlands in the state of Georgia. Specifically, the Corps is charged with issuing permits for Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.
But outreach events like Summerfest are about more than education, says Donald Hendrix, regulatory specialist.
"We want to recruit people into the scientific career fields—not just engineering and technology—but anything science-related," Hendrix said.
For example, the Regulatory Division employs people from a variety of scientific backgrounds, including biology, forestry, wildlife management, botany, environmental engineering, and chemistry.
The event was particularly helpful to the Venture Scouts and Explorer Scouts, because these groups focus on trying new things and learning about different career paths, said Micah Donaldson, Atlantic district director for the Coastal Empire Council, Boy Scouts of America.
The Coastal Empire Council represents a total of 11 Georgia counties and serves more than 12,000 youth through community-based cub packs, Scout Troops, Venture Crews, Learning for Life Groups and Explorer Posts, according to the Coastal Empire Council website.
"STEM is a big push within the Boy Scouts," Donaldson said. "This event gives them an opportunity to explore careers to find out about the different avenues available to them."
The Boy Scouts also use Summerfest as a platform to showcase the value of scouts to local businesses and the community, Donaldson said.
In addition to the STEM expo, Summerfest featured a variety of competitions, physical challenges and competitive events, such as a rock climbing wall and a zip line. This was the event's third year in Savannah.