Wouldn’t you love to get your children or grandchildren more involved in family history work? Learn how to help them participate in the genealogy 4-H project program or earn their Boy Scout genealogy merit badge. You too can help in the work by becoming a genealogy merit badge counselor.
There are dozens of ways to encourage our youth to participate in genealogy. Some even include scholarships, ribbons, trophies, and badges. It’s always nice to be recognized for your hard work! Today, I’m sharing about genealogy 4-H projects and the Boy Scout genealogy merit badge.
The Genealogy 4-H Project Program
4-H is a organization or club made up of a group of five or more youngsters guided by one or more adult volunteer leader. In the U.S., each club helps their youth to complete a 4-H project for the annual county fair. Genealogy is one of hundreds of possible projects. Genealogy projects are broken down into three divisions or years. Each yearly division project builds on the one before so that at the end of three years, the youth will have compiled a very thorough genealogy.
This year, I followed along as Tove Russell of Shelby County, Ohio worked with her four grandchildren to accomplish their genealogy 4-H projects. Two of the teens were able to take their work to the county fair. Emily and Braden Guinther have just completed their second year. To complete the second year genealogy requirements, they did the following:
- Began a personal journal,
- Completed a family group sheet for each aunt and uncle, including an interview if able,
- Visited a courthouse, library, or cemetery for the purpose of researching genealogy,
- Learned to use a microfilm and/or micofiche reader,
- Attended a genealogy workshop or genealogical society meeting,
- Added new information to their pedigree chart,
- Wrote a personal history essay, and
- Copied and shared their family history findings with another family member.
Braden’s favorite part of his genealogy journey was writing the personal essay and learning to use the microfilm reader. Emily’s favorite part was learning her great-grandmother married her brother-in-law when her first husband passed away. Each of the kids had several fun stories to share! I particularly liked learning about their great-grandfather (who I remember as a child) working as a grave digger!
Both Emily and Braden won a ribbon for their genealogy 4-H projects. In addition, Emily won Honorable Mention.
The Genealogy Merit Badge
The Boy Scouts of America also has a genealogy and family history initiative. The organization has been particularly helpful in completing many cemetery projects for BillionGraves. Among their many merit badges, the genealogy merit badge is still rather unique. Requirements for this merit badge are extensive, but some of the requirements include:
- Defining the words genealogy, ancestor, and descendant,
- Keeping a journal for 6 weeks,
- Interviewing a relative,
- Naming three types of genealogical resources and how they can help a genealogist,
- Visiting a genealogical library, society, or archive,
- Completing at least a three generation pedigree chart, and
- Completing a family group sheet.
I was very excited to learn that I could become involved as a local genealogy merit badge counselor. If you would like to do so, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old,
- Be proficient in the merit badge subject by vocation, avocation, or special training,
- Be able to work with Scout-age boys,
- Be registered with the Boy Scouts of America,
- Complete the Youth Protection training, and
- Complete and submit the BSA Merit Badge Counselor Information Form.
You can turn in your form to any local Boy Scout troop or Scout Master. After your information form and application have been evaluated, you will be notified that you are now a genealogy merit badge counselor. You can work with one specific Boy Scout troop or many.
Historical and genealogical societies may also enjoy hosting an event for their local Boy Scout troop to learn all about genealogy in their area. What a great way to get involved in the community and support the youth!
Did you participate in a genealogy 4-H program or earn a genealogy merit badge as a youth? If so, we would be delighted to hear about it in the comments below. If you have some pictures to share of your genealogy 4-H project or the project of your children or grandchildren, head on over to our Facebook page and share a photo. We love hearing from you, Gems!
More Gems on Genealogy for Youth
Family History for Kids: 3 Ways to Interest Young People in Genealogy
Family History for Kids Starts WITH the Kids
How to Create a Coloring Book for Family History
I have a granddaughter. Is there a genealogy merit badge for Girl Scouts?
Pat, I believe that some Girl Scout troops do offer some sort of family history badge, but the only one I found for the national level was the “My Family Story” badge. You can see that here: http://www.girlscoutshop.com/PROGRAM-FOCUS-ITS-YOUR-WORLD-CHANGE-IT/BROWNIE-MY-FAMILY-STORY-BADGE
Amie, For two years now, our local genealogy club has worked with 4-H helping the kids who are doing genealogy projects. The club meets monthly at the library and quarterly we have After Hours Research sessions. [After Hours: Library closes at 5pm on Fridays. On evenings of these sessions, those doing research meet in conference room while library closes and locks doors. We added two extra After Hours Sessions in February and March just for 4-H kids. They were also invited to the club’s regular After Hours in April. We start by having Pizza Party in conference room while library is closing. Club members (screened & approved by 4-H) volunteer to assist and mentor the kids. We talk to them about the requirements of their year’s project, databases, reference books, microfilm, and online research on library’s computers [all available at the library]. After the Pizza Party, we take the kids (must be accompanied by an adult) to the local history / genealogy department in the library and help them get started and answer their questions. I’m proud to say my little girl (1st year in 4-H) whom I mentored and with her grandmother’s help won Grand Champion in Division 1 and Honorable Mention at Indiana State Fair last year. This year Division 2 she won Grand Champion again and is on her way to the state fair again. All of the 4-H kids have done well with their projects and have said the Genealogy Club members were a great help. We have several club members who work at the library. The club and library work very well together. My little girl has already started on her Division 3 project — she is so motivated and excited about genealogy.
Wow, wow, WOW! Linda, this is so great to hear! Both about the work your society is doing for the young people and your own sweet daughter. If you have a few pictures of your event or your daughter and her project that you are willing to share, we would love to invite you to post on our Facebook page! The address is: https://www.facebook.com/GenealogyGems/?fref=ts
If you haven’t “Liked” our Facebook page, do so and then it will allow you to leave a comment and images! Thanks for sharing, Linda and tell your daughter congratulations on her projects!
Discuss what you have learned about your family and your family members through your genealogical research. The following Internet sites will also help you learn about the requirements to earn a Boy Scout of America merit badge in genealogy.