Please join the NCAC Conservation Committee in applauding conservationist and dedicated scouter John Wiltenmuth of Mattaponi District for receiving the prestigious BSA Hornaday Gold Badge. The Gold Badge is awarded by the local council to an adult Scouter or Venturing leader who has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to the education of youth on a council or district level for significant conservation efforts for a period of at least three years. Fewer than 40 Scouters nationwide received this highly coveted award in 2020. Read below the nomination letter that outlines John’s exceptional conservation leadership and dedication to youth education.
John Wiltenmuth has been a continuing supporter and promoter of environmental education and conservation within the Mattaponi District and BSA for over thirteen years. In addition to promoting conservation opportunities for district units at Roundtable since 2013 as well as with the several units he continues to serve in as a volunteer, he has also served as staff for two National events – a Squad Leader for ArrowCorps 5 in 2008 and on the Environmental and Conservation staff of the 2010 National Jamboree. He has promoted the OA’s High Adventure program with the local chapter and in three of the past four summers, two Scouts from Mattaponi have participated in portage trail construction at Quetico Provincial Park (Northern Tier) and one each doing mountain bike trail construction at New River Gorge (adjacent to Summit Bechtel) and beach cleanup at Fort Jefferson in the Keys with OA Ocean Adventure.
He has been an advisor/consultant in over 30 local Eagle projects, many of which supported local conservation efforts at national, state, and local parks. Eagle Scout trail construction projects have included a relocated trail section at Caledon State Park, “Salamander Loop” trail constructed in support of Spotsylvania Greenways Initiative at Massaponax, several projects removing invasive ivy at local National Park Service sites, new trails, and maintenance of existing trails at Fredericksburg Chapter of Izaak Walton, and Order of the Arrow trail work with Fredericksburg Trail Alliance in the Quarry Trail system. He has fostered the involvement each year of many local troops and packs participation in “Park Day” service projects with the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield at local National Park Service sites. One particularly interesting Eagle project involved site preservation/interpretation of a Civil War field cemetery at the local Izaak Walton League.
The Mattaponi Order of the Arrow Chapter typically conducts spring and fall ordeals at the local Izaak Walton chapter where John has been instrumental in aligning the service work to meet the conservation needs there to include bat houses, solitary bee houses, bluebird houses, erosion control, and trail construction/improvement and maintenance.
As noted above, much of John’s efforts have aligned with environment/nature interpretation and instruction and trail construction/maintenance. He has developed a local network of organizations that support service and education for responsible outdoor recreation and protection and consistently provided opportunities for local Scouts to be involved with these groups. Among the groups he has worked with are Virginia Master Naturalists, National Park Service, Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation, Friends of The Wilderness Battlefield, Caledon and Widewater State Parks, Spotsylvania Greenways Initiative, Fredericksburg Trails Alliance, Izaak Walton League, Gari Melchers Home and Studio, Friends of the Rappahannock, Tri-County Soil and Water District, and Friends of Crows Nest. He is now working to bring these groups into closer communication and mutual support with the establishment of the Rappahannock Conservation Coalition.
John’s efforts have not been restricted to Scouting youth. As a volunteer interpreter he has had interactions with hundreds of youth and adults each year at the Motts Run Nature Center and as a guide for the monthly Woodland Walks at Gari Melchers Home and Studio in Stafford County. He has maintained his annual recertification credentials as a Virginia Master Naturalist and shares his knowledge on nature hikes with Scouts and other youth.
While not pertinent to Scouting youth, in his 25 years at the University of Mary Washington he led the design and construction of 10 LEED-certified projects, initiated environmental stewardship programs of student/staff behavior modification for water and power savings resulting in annual savings of over $250,000/yr., and stream restoration projects to improve water quality. With his leadership, the Fredericksburg Campus has been certified as a “Tree USA” campus and as an arboretum. He established the school’s Office of Sustainability and was an advocate for creating the President’s Council for Sustainability.