Genealogy 4H Projects and Merit Badges Earn Special Recognition

From left to right: Emily Guinther, Amie Tennant, Braden Guinther, and Tove Russell

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 persoGenealogy 4H Projects and Merit Badges Earn Special Recognitionnal 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.
Genealogy 4H Projects and Merit Badges Earn Special Recognition

Genealogy Merit Badge

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!

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