6 Environmental Science Merit Badge Requirements

In this article, we are going to take a quick survey on the environmental science merit badge requirement. For Environmental Science Merit Badge, an environmental scientist ought to know a great deal about living things and their ways of life in the environment as to how living things affect the environment.

For instance, an environmental scientist might study how the chemistry of soil affects behavior.

Some other things that an environmental scientist might study include plants in a forest, the makeup of rainwater, the purity of air, and how many living things are found in a given environment.

About Environmental Science Merit Badge

The Environmental Science merit badge will teach you how to conserve humanity’s most precious resource our planet! To earn this eagle-required badge, you’ll need to learn a plethora of environmental terms, conduct your experiments, and create a timeline of historical environmental events.

Also to have access to the badge Scouts learn about ecology, pollution, endangered species, pollination by bees, and other environmental topics. Without fail, they also study how parts of the ecosystem interact through repeated observation.

This Merit Badge’s Requirements have recently been updated in 2023 Scouts BSA Requirements (33216).

Environmental Science Merit Badge Requirements

Environmental Science Merit Badge Requirements

You have to Keep in mind, the Environmental Science merit badge is heavy on both action and knowledge requirements. Be prepared to work hard and learn a lot!

Before we jump into learning though, take the time to read through each of the following requirements and fully understand what we’ll be covering in this badge. Remember, preparation is the key to success! Below are the requirements for one to earn an environmental science merit badge let’s take a quick survey.

  • Timeline of the History of Environmental Science
  • Define Terms in Environmental Science
  • Conduct the Following Activities
  • Choose Study Areas
  • Identification of Items
  • Look out for Career Opportunities

1. Timeline of the History of Environmental Science

You have to make a timeline of the history of environmental science in America. Identify the contribution made by the Boy Scouts of America to environmental science. Include dates, names of people or organizations, and important events.

Some of the notable timeline history of Environmental Science in America Are as follows:

  • 1626. Plymouth Colony passed a law to control the cutting and sale of timber on colony lands.
  • 1639. People in Newport, Rhode Island, agreed to restrict deer hunting to six months a year.
  • 1681. In Pennsylvania, William Penn decreed that one acre must be left forested for every five acres of forest that were cleared.
  • 1798. Thomas Malthus predicted that exponential population growth would outplace linear food production, which leads to starvation.
  • 1845. Henry David Thoreau believed in being simple and self-sufficient. Author of Walden or Life in the Woods.
  • 1872. Yellowstone National Park the first National Park created by Ulysses S. Grant.
  • 1900. The Lacey Act simply stated that you can’t kill birds without paying the state.
  • 1901-1909. Theodore Roosevelt was a conservationist who was the 1st Environmental President. He started the Golden Age of Conservation
  • 1934-1940. Dust Bowl A drought occurred, and the citizens used bad farming techniques which led to the soil depleting and starvation.
  • 1962. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson cautioned about pesticides and DDT. She is the mother of the Environmental Science movement.
  • 1969. Cuyahoga River Fire, the river was so badly polluted that it caught on fire.
  • 1969. National Environmental Policy Act, 1st comprehensive Environmental Law. No construction if it negatively affects the environment.
  • 1970. Clean Air Act, sets limits for air pollutants to keep our air healthy.
  • 1970. EPA Established, Nixon established the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
  • 1970. The First Earth Day on April 22nd was arranged by students’ universities and such.
  • 1972. Clean Water Act, regulated pollution in water it sets maximum limits in drinkable water.
  • 1979. Three Mile Island, located in Pennsylvania it was the worst nuclear disaster of all time.
  • 1989. Exxon Valdez was one of the worst disasters that occurred at sea. An oil tanker struck a reef spilling millions of gallons into the ocean.
  • 2011. Fukushima, Japan. Huge radiation was triggered after a nuclear reactor exploded due to an earthquake that triggered a tsunami.

2. Define Terms in Environmental Science

Define the following terms:  Population, community, ecosystem, biosphere, symbiosis, niche, habitat, conservation, threatened species, endangered species, extinction, pollution prevention, brownfield, ozone, watershed, airshed, non-point source, hybrid vehicle, fuel cell.

i. Population

In biological terms, a population is a group of organisms that live in a particular geographical area and are capable of inter-breeding. This means that all of the people living in your city make up a population. Likewise, all of the spiders and ants in your backyard are also considered a population!

ii. Community

This is a group of interacting living organisms sharing a populated environment.

iii. Ecosystem

This is a community of living organisms (plants, animals, and microbes) in conjunction with the non-living components of the environment.

iv. Biosphere

The biosphere is part of the earth and its atmosphere in which living organisms exist or that is capable of supporting life.

v. Symbiosis

Symbiosis is any close and often interaction long-term between two or more different biological species. There are three types of symbiosis:

  • Mutualism
  • Commensalism
  • Parasitism
A. Mutualism

A relationship where both species benefit. For example, think of oxpecker birds and cattle (and other mammals in Sub-saharan Africa). Oxpecker birds eat harmful ticks and parasites that live on the zebras, thereby helping them out and gaining a meal in the process!

B. Commensalism

A relationship where one organism benefits while the other is neither helped nor harmed. An example of commensalism is birds and the trees whose branches they live in.

C. Parasitism

This is a close relationship between species where one organism, known as a parasite lives inside or on another organism the host, causing it some harm and is adapted structurally to this way of life. A few examples of parasites are tapeworms, fleas, and ticks.

vi. Niche

This is the role an organism plays in the ecosystem or its environment. For instance, dung beetles eat the waste of other larger animals and help to promote decomposition within their area. This can be done by no other organism in the environment.

vii. Habitat

This is an ecological or environmental area where species of animals, plants, and other types of organisms live.  To be considered a suitable habitat, an area must provide food, reproductive mates, and protection for an organism.

Types of habitats can include coral reefs, clumps of moss, and even the human body (parasites). A habitat is anywhere that a population of organisms lives.

viii. Conservation

This is a deliberate practice that protects animals, plants, and the environment.

ix. Threatened Species

These are species (including animals, plants, fungi, etc.) that are vulnerable to endangerment shortly. That is they have the potential to die out shortly.

x. Endangered Species

These are the species of animals or plants that are in danger of extinction throughout all or it is likely to go extinct shortly. Green sea turtles and Siberian tigers are both examples of endangered species.

Many nations create laws that protect endangered species from hunting and land development. Through these laws and some other actions, we are sometimes able to save endangered species from extinction.

xi. Extinction

This is the end of an organism or a group of organisms, normally a species. This usually occurs when a species is unable to breed or adapt to a new environment. Examples of extinct species include woolly mammoths and dodo birds.

In recent times, due to human activities in the environment, countless number species are going extinct every year which is a significant issue of concern for the environment.

xii. Pollution Prevention

Pollution prevention refers to any practice that reduces, eliminates, or prevents a source of pollution.

Pollution is harmful to humans, as well as many other living organisms. By reducing or preventing pollution, we can increase the health and well-being of ourselves and our planet.

xiii. Brownfield

Brownfield land is any land that was once used (for factories, housing, etc), but is now unoccupied and may potentially be contaminated. The issue with brownfields is that they are often unsafe to redevelop until they have been cleaned and revitalized.

xiv. Ozone

Ozone is a molecule that forms an important layer of protection in the Earth’s atmosphere. The sun produces harmful ultraviolet radiation, and the ozone layer protects the earth by absorbing these dangerous rays before they can reach the surface of the earth.

In 1976, atmospheric researchers discovered that the ozone was being depleted by industry-produced chemicals such as Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

However, after several regulatory reforms, current research shows that ozone layer depletion has slowed dramatically.

xv. Watershed

A watershed is an area of land that catches and collects freshwater. For instance, streams that collect rainfall and flow into reservoirs would be considered examples of a watershed. 

This water most times is within a natural watershed soaks into the ground and can be pumped out in the form of fresh and potable water. This is why wells were used back in ancient times!

xvi. Airshed

This refers to a geographic area that circulates the same flow of air. It is like that cave example but on a global level. In some cities and regions, fresh air does not come in, so the air pollution from that area is circulated around and around the same location.

Pollution-capturing airsheds could lead to health problems for the people living within those areas.

xvii. Non-point Source

A non-point source usually refers to sources of pollution that are generated from a large area, rather than a single point. What this means is that instead of a singular factory pouring its waste into a river to create pollution, the pollution is instead coming from a large area and being carried by liquid runoff.

Some common examples of non-point source pollution include:

  • Land-runoff from heavy rains
  • Poor drainage techniques
  • Incorrect waste disposal in residential areas

Non-point source pollution is a problem because water runoff carries natural and human-made pollutants. These plastics and hazardous wastes ultimately end up being swept into our lakes, rivers, and oceans.

xviii. Hybrid Vehicle

A hybrid vehicle uses two or more types of power. For instance, most hybrid cars run on gasoline and electricity. The electricity used to power these vehicles is generated by converting the rotational energy of the motor into electrical energy.

Hybrid vehicles are much more environmentally friendly than their gas-powered counterparts. Gasoline is a non-renewable resource that is refined from oil pumped out of the ground.

Energy sources like electricity, hydrogen, or biofuels, on the other hand, are considered renewable. This means that there is not a limited amount that can be produced.

xix. Fuel Cell

A fuel cell converts the chemical energy of a fuel into electricity. In most cases, this is done by converting hydrogen and oxygen into a form of energy that can run an engine or act as a battery.

Fuel cells present an enormous opportunity to begin weaning off of non-renewable fossil fuels and switch over to environmentally friendly energy sources. This exciting technology has not yet been perfected, but it’s being increasingly applied throughout the world!

3. Conduct the Following Activities

 Do ONE activity from seven of the following eight categories (make use of the activities in the merit badge pamphlet as the basis for planning and projects):

A. Ecology

Option 1: Experiment to find out how living things respond to changes in their environments. Discuss your observations with your counselor.

Option 2: Conduct an experiment illustrating the greenhouse effect. Keep a journal of your data and observations. Discuss your conclusions with your counselor.

Option 3: Discuss what an ecosystem is. Talk about how it is maintained in nature and it’s survival.

B. Air Pollution

Option 1:  Perform an experiment to test for particulates contributing to air pollution. Discuss your findings with your counselor.

Option 2: Record the trips taken, mileage, and fuel consumption of a family car for seven days, and calculate how many miles per gallon the car gets.

Determine whether any trips could have been combined (“chained”) rather than taken out and back. Using the idea of trip chaining, determine how many miles and gallons of gas could have been saved in those seven days.

Option 3:  Explain what is acid rain. In your explanation, tell how it affects plants and the environment and the steps society can take to help reduce its effects.

4. Choose Study Areas

Choose two outdoor study areas that are very different from one another (e.g., hilltop and bottom of the hill, forest and field, swamp and dry land).

For any of the study areas, do one of the following:

(a) Mark off a plot of 4 square yards in each study area, and count the number of species found there. Check how much space each plant species occupies and the type and number of non-plant species you find.

Report to your counselor orally or in writing the biodiversity and population density of the study areas.

(b) Make at least 3 visits to each of the two study areas (for a total of 6 visits), staying for at least 20 minutes each time, to observe the living and non-living parts of the ecosystem.

Distance each visit far enough apart that there are readily apparent differences in the observations. Keep a journal that includes the differences you observe. Discuss your observations with your counselor.

Study Area Tips

  • Take notes, make drawings, and take pictures so you can remember all of the diversity you observed.
  • Not all of the grass you see is “grass”. There might be many different types.
  • Check with a local nature center to see if they have any checklists of plants and wildlife common in your area. This will help with noticing different things.

5. Identification of items

Using the construction project provided or a plan you create on your own, identify the items that would need to be included in an environmental impact statement for the project planned.

Identify the items that would need to be included in an environmental impact statement for a construction project such as building a house, adding a new building to your Scout camp, or one you create on your own that is approved by your counselor.

6. Look out for Career Opportunities

Find out about three career opportunities in environmental science. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.


I hope this article was useful to you as a perspective on what is required of you to earn a merit badge for yourself in environmental science.

What you’ve got to do is deliberately carry out these requirements and see yourself having the Environmental Science Merit Badge.


Environmental Consultant at Environment Go! | + posts

Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.

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