Scouts earn badges at one-of-a-kind, student-led event
Twelve-year-old Colin Bloomfield is working hard to become an Eagle Scout.
Only 7 percent of Scouts achieve Eagle status. Rigorous requirements include 21 merit badges. A few weeks ago, Colin lacked just one.
Then he and his dad discovered that UNT Health Science Center offered a full-day Merit Badge University. Organized by a student and taught by grad students and faculty, the all-day event last month helped nearly 200 Scouts become better citizens with hands-on practice in health and safety. They earned badges in Medicine, Fire Safety, Chemistry, Disabilities Awareness, First Aid, Public Health and Safety. And the one Colin lacked: Emergency Preparedness.
He and his dad, Chris Bloomfield, a manufacturing bid manager, drove for more than an hour from their Lake Dallas home to take part in the Merit Badge University.
“We looked around for other Emergency Prep courses in the Metroplex, with no luck,” said Chris, an assistant scoutmaster for Colin’s troop. “The only other course available was in Houston. I’m informing my troop about the UNTHSC event, so they can sign up early next year.”
Affordability also differentiates UNTHSC’s event. “As far as I am aware, we are the only Merit Badge University in the nation that has no registration fee,” student organizer David Schulze said. “We wanted everyone to be able to attend regardless of income, and we do have a number of Scouts from underserved areas.”
Chris Bloomfield said he appreciates the expertise provided to the Scouts. “It was taught by professionals, in a professional environment, strongly reinforcing the medical side of the merit badge.”
Schulze says it’s important to motivate youth from all backgrounds to explore careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). As president of the Medical Science Community Service Organization, he’s earning a master’s degree in medical sciences and will enter the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine later this year. He was the first Scout in history to earn all the merit badges – more than 100 – before becoming an Eagle Scout.
“UNTHSC students made Merit Badge University a reality,” Schulze said. “We are very privileged to be at an institution that truly works to serve others first, and we can’t wait to share our passion with the next generation.”
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