Local Boy Scouts of America need your help to become the next generation of STEM
March 05, 2019
Not long ago, the term Boy Scout was mostly associated with knots and campfires. Although today’s Scouts still learn indispensable outdoor skills, the Greater St. Louis Area Council (GSLAC), Boy Scouts of America (BSA) adapted to introduce kids to a new skill set, one that will put them at the forefront of the global job market: STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math).
Last year, GSLAC partnered with organizations such as Microsoft, e2 Young Engineers and Little Medical School to host more than 200 workshops where Scouts interacted with engineers, doctors, and programmers — careers that are dominating the future. Additionally, GSLAC organized activities and events like STEM on CAMPus at Southeast Missouri State University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
But these priceless windows of opportunity are not always covered by the membership fees that a Scout’s family pays. Rather, it is through the generosity of individuals, sponsors and organizations that the BSA can enable more than 69,000 local youth to grow into leaders of the future. Accordingly, the Greater St. Louis Area Council is seeking the community’s financial support to fulfill its mission.
Ask any Scout and they will tell you: The leadership training and skills that Scouting offers, not only through STEM programs but in all facets of life, can be above and beyond what goes on during their traditional school hours, especially in underserved areas.
Particularly for Scouts who are breaking barriers (such as becoming first-generation college students), these messages of inspiration and support consistently emphasize that their educational and professional goals are within reach.
Employment projections by the U.S. Department of Labor show that the majority of the fastest-growing job occupations require significant math or science skills. Specifically, STEM-based careers are expected to grow by 8.9 percent through 2024. With this in mind, BSA leaders have worked for nearly a decade to introduce Scouts to an abundance of STEM learning opportunities to meet this demand.
Throughout the past 100 years, Scouts have earned a reputation of rising to the occasion to serve our nation’s needs. During World Wars I and II, decades before the term “STEM” had first been uttered, Scouts gathered resources and helped citizens during wartime. Although today’s circumstances are different, the BSA has evolved and adapted to serve a new need: establishing the U.S. as a hub for innovation.
As the U.S. competes with other nations to become a global innovation leader, professionals and educators are urging students to enter STEM-related fields. Accordingly, GSLAC is working to help kids who live in underserved communities become the next generation of scientists, doctors and engineers.
In years past, a child whose family dealt with financial burdens may not have been able to become a Scout, much less attend STEM camps and activities. It was in response to this discrepancy that the Greater St. Louis Area Council launched its Outreach Program, a comprehensive plan that delivers useful skills, life lessons and memorable experiences to kids in underserved areas while also giving them access to unique STEM activities.
All Scouts in the Outreach Program attend at least one STEM event during the program year, allowing them to develop relevant skills and experiences that may otherwise have not been available through their school’s curriculum or personal connections.
“To take students who may have once struggled in math or science class and then spark their interest in STEM careers is an ambitious goal, but it’s an important one nonetheless,” said Ronald Green, CEO of the BSA’s Greater St. Louis Area Council. “Our funding goal — which would eliminate socioeconomic barriers to summer camps, transportation costs and registration fees for 18,000 local kids — is to raise $3 million in 2019.”
Although fundraising efforts have opened doors for thousands of Scouts, there are still many waiting for their chance. One local youth who has already seen the benefits of the Outreach Program is Quenton, a Boy Scout in Troop 455.
“Scouting has been one of the most influential experiences in my life,” said Quenton. “Through it, I have met other kids who share my same positive outlook on life and who hold themselves to higher moral standards — the kind of kids that I want to be friends with and hang out with.”
Scouts say they are grateful for the volunteers, donors, and organizations who give them a chance to learn those important life skills and professional lessons that they cherish so much.
Whether a Scout is engaging in community outreach or building a remote-controlled robot, it’s no question that their experiences give them access to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to achieve their full potential. But without assistance from generous donors, those opportunities could become few and far between.
“Your generous, tax-deductible gift to the Greater St. Louis Area Council, which provides direct funding for Scouting’s life-changing programs that program fees alone do not cover, is more than a donation—it’s an investment in a new generation of successful adults and, ultimately, a thriving community,” said Green.
To support Boy Scouts in the Greater St. Louis area, visit stlbsa.org/give.