Vanderbilt-Bound Eagle Scout from West Chester Makes History with Prestigious Award

James Raubenheimer

In 2003, James Raubenheimer moved to the West Chester area from South Africa with his parents and joined the Cub Scouts. He found that he loved being engaged in the outdoors, learning different skills, and making new friends.

As he grew older, he became involved in helping other Scout service projects, and found that he loved the experience and was motivated by the thought that what he was doing would better his local community.

Raubenheimer became an Eagle Scout at the age of 14 and decided that he still not only had much to learn but also much to give.

Building on his love for the outdoors, learning, and service to his community, the senior at Henderson High School has since become the first Scout in the history of the Chester County Council, Boy Scouts of America to be awarded the William T. Hornaday Silver Award.

The William T. Hornaday Award program was created to recognize those who have made significant contributions to conservation. It can be traced back to 1914, when Dr. William T. Hornaday – director of the New York Zoological Park and founder of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. – was an active and outspoken champion of natural resource conservation and a leader in saving the American bison from extinction.

The fundamental purpose of the Hornaday Award program is to encourage learning by the participants and to increase public awareness about natural resource conservation. Only 1,100 medals have been awarded over the years.

The requirements for a Scout to earn the award are to first earn the Merit Badges for Energy, Environmental Science, Fish and Wildlife Management, Forestry, Public Health, and Soil and Water Conservation Merit Badges, plus three additional nature-related Merit Badges. Then, the Scout must complete at least four service projects.

After earning the required Merit Badges, Raubenheimer improved the ecosystem of the Little Buck Run stream by planting selected trees and shrubs for the first of his four projects.

His second project sought to increase the fish and wildlife population of Lake Chambers and to revitalize the ecosystem of Hibernia County Park. The project, which aims to build up the food chain of the area, consisted of building seven pyramid structures each of which stand approximately four feet tall. The pyramids were then sunk to the bottom of the lake to create a habitat where young fish are protected from large predators.

The third project consisted of removing invasive species in an area near the entrance to Hibernia County Park. The project removed all the identified invasive species in a two-acre area and applies control substances to prevent their return.

Raubenheimer’s fourth project consisted of building a website to support the Borough of West Chester in its effort to reduce the effects of storm water runoff. The website is available on the borough’s homepage and helps everyone understand the Stream Protection Fee and how they can get a rebate on the Fee by implementing one of four projects to reduce storm water runoff from their property.

Raubenheimer, who will attend Vanderbilt University in the fall, has been selected to be a part of the National Eagle Scout Association World Explorer’s research expedition to go to the Galapagos Islands this summer.

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