Teen Wins Top National Scout Award for Conservation Work

The Scouts say it's like winning an Olympic medal bestowed by the Earth.

17-year old Peter Livengood lives in Ohiopyle (PA), one of the most ruggedly beautiful regions in the northeast, with some of the best hiking, camping and whitewater rafting you'll find. So it's no surprise that he has an affinity for protecting nature. But his efforts have gone above and beyond.

His conservation work has won him the Boy Scouts' prestigious William T. Hornaday Silver Medal for exceptional conservation service . "It was a really exciting moment," Peter told the Uniontown Herald Standard , which reports the medal has only been awarded to about 125 teens since it was created in 1975, and nationally, only about three scouts win it each year.

The Herald Standard says Peter completed four large-scale conservation projects to earn the award. They included restoring the bioswales in the town of Ohiopyle. The bioswales are concrete basins designed to capture and filter storm water run-off before it gets into the Youghiogheny River. The purity of the river is key to the area's tourist trade which draws 1.5 million visitors a year. Peter also helped create a GoFundMe page to maintain the bioswales .

Bioswale at Ohiopyle Mini Golf before Peter's project.

The same bioswale "after" is more attractive, and does a better job of filtering storm water runoff.

Peter's other projects included a hawk count on nearby Chestnut Ridge and research projects to remove invasive water plants from Cranberry Glade Lake in Somerset County, and restore the underbrush at Ohiopyle State Park Kentuck Campground, for which he also received a State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Conservation Award (that's him with DCNR Secretary Cindy Dunn in the top picture).

"I felt a sense of accomplishment and a sense I made a lasting mark on the community."

Peter, who earned a perfect ACT score, will be attending California University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship in the fall.

(Images: Ohiopyle Bioswale Maintenance Fund GoFundMe , PA Environment Digest Blog )

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