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TAHAWK

"10 kinds of wild animals (birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, mollusks)"

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I like the "native plant" and "wild animal" part of the requirements, it shows a deeper level of understanding about these items rather than just identifying them.  Dutch Elm Disease, Oak Blight, Emerald Ash Bore, and other invasive species have taken their toll on many of the native species in our area and an awareness of the ecological impact goes a long way to "remembering for a reason" dynamics of the requirements.

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Well, IMHO, if a boy can tell the difference between ten types of Chickadees, he's probably pretty aware of nature. I'd count it. There is no "diversity" rule listed--you are adding to requirements.  Also, being a birder, finding ten different species of a single type of bird is much harder than finding ten different species of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, and mollusks.   

 

I put up a bird feeder in my backyard outside the kitchen window many years ago when my kids were small.  We were going to teach the kids about the different kinds of birds that would come to feed.  Sparrow after sparrow showed up.  Nothing else..... until we got a bird book out and started a whole new area for me, there a tons of different kinds of sparrows out there.  House Sparrows, Field Sparrows, English Sparrows!  It was really neat and at one time I could easily identify 10 different kinds of sparrows.... something I would never have been able to do had I just blown off the "failure" of not having a variety of different "birds" at the feeder.  Since then my kids have grown to appreciate the different kinds of birds that don't go to seed feeders and are carnivorous, such as Turkey Vultures, Eagles, Robins, Swallows and non-seed eaters like Ducks and Geese.  And this "diversity" became quite an interesting opportunity for my family.

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IMHO, I see diversity in the habitat as a reasonable interpretation of the "10 different ...animals". When scouts take Environmental Science and Nature merit badges this will be emphasized.

 

If a scout found ten types of chickadees here in North America, well forget SC let's send him to Cornell. :)

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I have a feeling that the requirement-writer for First Class requirement 5a was not necessarily being literal with the word "native."  If you "find" it growing in your area or on a camping trip, I think it counts.  I think what they are trying to exclude is, plants growing in peoples' gardens (on purpose) that were "imported" from elsewhere.  Of course, I could be wrong.

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:happy: 

Well, IMHO, if a boy can tell the difference between ten types of Chickadees, he's probably pretty aware of nature. I'd count it. There is no "diversity" rule listed--you are adding to requirements.  Also, being a birder, finding ten different species of a single type of bird is much harder than finding ten different species of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, and mollusks.   

 Unless it's spring migration and you're on a certain boardwalk in Northern Ohio on Lake Erie where you might find 20 or more of 54 species of warblers in a couple of hours.  :)

 

I think we've identified the biggest problem with the requirements - the problem is us - and specifically adults.

 

Identify or show evidence of 10 different kinds of animals.  You're average 10-12 year old is going to be able to understand that at a basic level.  You need 10, they need to be different, and they can't be plants or fungi.  Only adults would try to parse that by phylum, class, order, family, genus or species.  An 11 year old is going to just stick with kingdom, where animal means mammals, fish, birds, molluscs, reptiles, amphibians and insects.  The requirement's limitations are animals and wild (and 10).  It only gives examples of animals when it uses "such as" - that doesn't leave out reptiles, amphibians and insects - it just leaves them unsaid..  The boys can figure that out.  You average 11 year old isn't going to see a dog or cat in the wild and think "oh, feral animal - that's wild too".  They're not going to count dogs, cats, horses, cow, sheep, chickens and pig as wild (unless they live somewhere where there truly are wild horses and wild boar).  Let's give the boys some credit here.  Saying all that, we as adults can push back a bit at times.  Identifying something as a bird, rabbit, deer, fish is really just not enough.  Tell us what kind of deer, what kind of rabbit,what kind of bird, what kind of fish.  That's the point of the requirement.  Of course, if their evidence of deer is deer tracks, you may need to settle for deer if you're in an area where white-tailed and mule deer actually mix.

 

Sometimes though, we write requirements thinking we're being clever.  Identify 10 different kinds of native plants?  You better have a good plant id field guide because a lot of plants out there that folks might call native truly aren't native, if the definition of native is a plant that has not been imported from elsewhere.  Dandelions were brought to the US 100's of years ago - not native.  Queen Anne's Lace - not native.  Narrow-leaved Cattail - not native.  Canada Thistle - not native.  Oxeye Daisy - not native.  I would even go so far as to suggest that for most of us, most of the plants we are most familiar with and can identify most readily are actually not native at all.  I suspect that what the requirement writer was getting at was don't identify plants that were planted in gardens or in cropland.  A better requirement would have been to identify 10 "wild" plants and then identify them as native or introduced and if they are invasive or not-invasive.

 

Oh, and if a boy identifies 10 different kinds of Chickadees in the US, forget Cornell, let's send him to Oxford (there are only 7 species of Chickadees on the US - if he discovers three more, he deserves better than Cornell).

Edited by CalicoPenn
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Is "being literal" just another excuse for not doing what the requirement states, i.e. adding and subtracting from the requirement.  I am in no place to be the one to second guess what was going through the mind of the writer of the requirement, but a number of people must have approved it to make it into the requirements.

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I like the word "native" in the requirement.  It shows the scouts the impact of introducing invasive species into established ecosystems and how that could disrupt the whole natural setup. 

 

I have various ferns, native grasses and plants in my "flower gardens".  I can walk my scouts out there and identify 10 invasive and 10 native plants in 5 minutes.  I can also tell you the reason for the invasives because many of them were brought into the area for medicinal and ornamental purposes.  Make sure my invasives do not escape my garden, but use them on a regular basis.

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I have a feeling that the requirement-writer for First Class requirement 5a was not necessarily being literal with the word "native."  If you "find" it growing in your area or on a camping trip, I think it counts.  I think what they are trying to exclude is, plants growing in peoples' gardens (on purpose) that were "imported" from elsewhere.  Of course, I could be wrong.

Or you could be right and he/she/they simply cannot write clearly.    

 

You are, however, arguing for "native" meaning "native or naturalized."  Because "or naturalized" could have easily been added, but was not, normal standards of interpretation leave us with "native."

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So here is what we've always done:

  • Our Instructors teach the class on plants and animals for our first year Scouts.
  • They take the group to a local park (200 acre nature preserve in our city) and hike the trail system, pointing out a select group of 20 trees, plants, shrubs, vines, flowers and grasses. The Instructors point out characteristics of each plant (e.g., Burr Oaks have huge acorns, Live Oaks are green year around, etc.).
  • Scouts can use all their senses to identify these plants (e.g, the difference between Honeysuckle and Star Jasmine).
  • Scouts take notes on these characteristics, trace leaves, draw acorns, describe smells or texture, etc.
  • At the end of the nature hike the Scouts are cut loose in an area to collect evidence (using cameras so they don't violate LNT) of 10 of these 20-25 things. If they find something they cannot identify they can bring an Instructor and adults to the site to try to identify it.
  • If they get ten they are done.

We do the exact same thing for animals.

 

We discuss "native" versus "invasive" but do not limit their list of ten to just "native" plants. Why? Because we had a kid one time that was a budding Paleo Botanist who proceeded to argue that very little in our area was actually native unless we defined the period in which we were investigating.

 

Who needs lawyers when you have a well-read 12 year old who can identify more plants than the park's biologist? Guess who become the instructor for this course for the next 5 years?  ;)

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And that is one way to deal with requirements one does not like - write your own.  So tempting given some of the language we are given to work with and the lack of a mechanism to even ask for clarification, much less rationalization, of that language. 

 

I write my own when BSA is unclear.  It's a decision I made decades ago.  If you cannot say what you mean you invite such behavior out of necessity.

 

I will not write my own simply because I disagree, as I disagreed with the requirement of Life Saving MB  for Eagle, which prevented my best friend, and the best Scout in our troop, from Eagling.  Following the rules, when one can understand them, is part of the "deal."  So I tell Wilderness Survival candidates that they must memorize the seven "priorities" in the invariable "order" dictated by BSA, even as we agree that priority will vary according to the facts on the ground and that STOP (SOTP), shelter, and fire are not needs but tools to meet needs whose very utility to meet actual survival needs vary according to those same facts.

 

A middle ground that you come close to is to argue that a given plant, brought here in merely historic time, has been so naturalized as to be "native." That, to me, is easier to defend than  "do not limit their list of ten to just 'native' plants."

 

 

 

Native plants are plants indigenous to a given area in geologic time.  This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area.

 

As I am sure you know, Star Jasmine is an alien species that arrived in recent historic times and survives in the U.S. in Climate Zones 8-10.

Edited by TAHAWK
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Oops. I only read 2nd class #4 as referenced in the original post.

I didn't realize 1st Class #5a did not have parallel construction.

 

I guess the English Hornbeam on Muddy Creek that stumped an adult and me wouldn't count. ... After all that time drawing the bark pattern and tracing the leaves, and pulling references once home. (Daughter couldn't believe we spent so much time perplexed about that.)

 

I approve of Flagg's approach. Defer to the 12 year-old botanist.

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A middle ground that you come close to is to argue that a given plant, brought here in merely historic time, has been so naturalized as to be "native." That, to me, is easier to defend than  "do not limit their list of ten to just 'native' plants."

 

You must be related to the young man I referenced.  ;)  He argued that, depending on when you are defining as the time period, the term "native" is relative. He then went off on all sorts of things like honeysuckle, feral hogs, horses, crazy rasberry ants (I had to google that after thinking he was puling my leg...wasn't)  and a host of other things that are now "native" to our area that were, at one time, an invasive species.

 

I learned more from that kid than any other kid in our troop. He is now the Nature MB counselor for the troop. His class is always packed!

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 Unless it's spring migration and you're on a certain boardwalk in Northern Ohio on Lake Erie where you might find 20 or more of 54 species of warblers in a couple of hours.  :)

 

 

I think we've identified the biggest problem with the requirements - the problem is us - and specifically adults.

 

Identify or show evidence of 10 different kinds of animals.  You're average 10-12 year old is going to be able to understand that at a basic level.  You need 10, they need to be different, and they can't be plants or fungi.  Only adults would try to parse that by phylum, class, order, family, genus or species.  An 11 year old is going to just stick with kingdom, where animal means mammals, fish, birds, molluscs, reptiles, amphibians and insects.  The requirement's limitations are animals and wild (and 10).  It only gives examples of animals when it uses "such as" - that doesn't leave out reptiles, amphibians and insects - it just leaves them unsaid..  The boys can figure that out.  You average 11 year old isn't going to see a dog or cat in the wild and think "oh, feral animal - that's wild too".  They're not going to count dogs, cats, horses, cow, sheep, chickens and pig as wild (unless they live somewhere where there truly are wild horses and wild boar).  Let's give the boys some credit here.  Saying all that, we as adults can push back a bit at times.  Identifying something as a bird, rabbit, deer, fish is really just not enough.  Tell us what kind of deer, what kind of rabbit,what kind of bird, what kind of fish.  That's the point of the requirement.  Of course, if their evidence of deer is deer tracks, you may need to settle for deer if you're in an area where white-tailed and mule deer actually mix.

 

Sometimes though, we write requirements thinking we're being clever.  Identify 10 different kinds of native plants?  You better have a good plant id field guide because a lot of plants out there that folks might call native truly aren't native, if the definition of native is a plant that has not been imported from elsewhere.  Dandelions were brought to the US 100's of years ago - not native.  Queen Anne's Lace - not native.  Narrow-leaved Cattail - not native.  Canada Thistle - not native.  Oxeye Daisy - not native.  I would even go so far as to suggest that for most of us, most of the plants we are most familiar with and can identify most readily are actually not native at all.  I suspect that what the requirement writer was getting at was don't identify plants that were planted in gardens or in cropland.  A better requirement would have been to identify 10 "wild" plants and then identify them as native or introduced and if they are invasive or not-invasive.

 

Oh, and if a boy identifies 10 different kinds of Chickadees in the US, forget Cornell, let's send him to Oxford (there are only 7 species of Chickadees on the US - if he discovers three more, he deserves better than Cornell).

 

Well, still being able to tell the difference between 10 different species of warblers is a feat.  Anyway, based on my years of working with T21 Scouts, that isn't a real problem. 

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I have no problems with Scouts.  It's the adults at training who come with lists of questions about requirements.  Three weeks to the next round.

 

Some here have said ignore the requirements - usually by substituting better, logical words that could or should have been said but clearly were not.  That is not an option for me, at least, when training Scoutmasters and SAs.

 

Some have said interpret words this way or that.  If native means naturalized in historic times and wild means (individual animals) that are not pets, the biggest quibble goes away.  (After all, the "Eastern Coyote" is supposedly a coyote-domestic dog hybrid.)

 

No one here has really dealt with "identify or show evidence of at least 10 kinds"   That has been brought up three prior years running by someone at training.  Many adults seems focused on finding the easiest possible way for a Scout to get rank.

 

CP, Mollusca is not a Kingdom.  Animalia is.  But I simply tell them this is not about binomial nomenclature or formal taxonomy.  I only brought it up because whoever wrote the requirement knows far less than I do about classification and put a phyla on the same level as classes.   I haven't dealt with classification since I was a lab assistant in Zoology as a history major (only one willing to deal with snakes) in 1964.

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Identify= Using the five senses recognize the animal.

 

Show= Have physical evidence you can visually show the counselor. That's anything left by the animal.

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