A dozen Scouts from Troop 58 of Ashburn went wild with civic engagement when they attended a public meeting of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on February 15, 2023. The Scouts were courteous and obedient, of course, but the topic of the evening was a proposed ordinance to limit the private ownership of certain wild, exotic and venomous animals, such as kangaroos, baboons, and vipers in the county.
The Scouts ranging in age from 12 to 17, from Scout to Life rank, were each working on requirements for the Citizenship in the Community and/or Communication Merit Badges. Before the meeting began, Chair Phyllis Randall asked the Scouts to introduce the Troop to the Board, after which she and Broad Run Supervisor Sylvia Glass gave the Scouts a tour of the Boardroom, including the dais. Senior Patrol Leader Connor Q. was invited to test out the gavel.
The Scouts had the opportunity to read about the proposed ordinance before the meeting, including issues encountered by first responders and delivery workers with potentially dangerous animals at residents’ homes. A story was shared of a recent enforcement officer visit to a property had multiple alligators, a caiman, Gaboon vipers and an 11-foot king cobra snake, which was reported on social media to be allowed to roam freely on the property. They learned that no effective anti-venom is readily available in the county, presenting a serious risk in the event of a bite.
The Scouts listened intently as the County Animal Services staff presented the issue, and constituents voiced their opinions and concerns related to the proposed ordinance. Two Scouts rose to address the Board of Supervisors, sharing their thoughts on the issue and directly participating in the process of local policymaking.
Even before they are old enough to vote, these Scouts are learning the importance of being informed and active citizens.