William David '21 Wins Boy Scouts' Rarest Award


William David '21 Wins Boy Scouts' Rarest Award

Greenie is only the fourth N.C. boy in 105 years to earn William T. Hornaday Silver Medal in Conservation

Christ School sophomore William David '21 would be the first to admit that the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal in Conservation is more than an individual honor.

Inspiring others to follow his lead now, and into the future, may ultimately be the real mark that William leaves on Asheville with his community service. The Boy Scouts of America will present their rarest award, and highest possible for conservation, to William during a formal ceremony on Tuesday.

Fewer than 150 Hornaday Silver Medals have been given by the Boy Scouts since the award was created in 1914. Statistically-speaking, the Hornaday Silver Medal is 15,000 times rarer than an Eagle Scout medal. William is only the fourth Scout from North Carolina to ever win a Hornaday Silver Medal. The Greenie underclassman belongs to North Asheville's Boy Scout Troop 91, part of the locally-based Daniel Boone Council.

Nearly 1,000 volunteers gave more than 2,800 hours of their time to support four long-term initiatives coordinated by William. Thousands more people attended educational and public events.

"I feel enormously grateful to the National Conservation Committee and the Boy Scouts of America for awarding me this honor. There have been so many people that have supported this and selflessly given their time," William said. "I learned about conservation science and a greater appreciation for the work of scientists and conservation professionals. Really I had the best job, which was to bring great people together, volunteers and experts, to help us all accomplish something larger together. I learned that education is the key; I found that people absolutely want to help if you take the time to explain 'why' and 'how' they can help. I also believe that we all care more about these issues if we have opportunities to interact with the natural world."

All told, William personally spent over 600 hours the past three and half years working on these four conservation issues:

  • 1. Recycling hard to recycle items, including electronic waste. William helped more than 70 organizations in three states, schools (including three colleges), businesses, and other organizations recycle plastic writing instruments instead of sending them to a landfill. One school demonstration project collected over 125 pounds of writing instruments in three months. William also started an electronic waste recycling program that is ongoing.
  • 2. Eastern box turtle conservation. William was part of the Turtle Monitoring Study, with data entry into the 100-Year Turtle Study and a presentation of data on the importance of the Shrubland Habitat. Educational programming included the Annual Box Turtle Day event at the N.C. Arboretum.
  • 3. Invasive Species Prevention. William was involved in the planting of 88 Eastern Hemlock Saplings to help in development in trees resistant to the invasive Woolly Adelgid and to save this foundation species. He completed and presented a study on the Walnut Twig Beetle. William wrote a guest blog for the Nature Conservancy's "Don't Move Firewood" campaign and designed the annual poster promotion campaign for Scouts.
  • 4. French Broad Watershed Water Quality Initiative. William and the volunteers removed tires and trash from multiple tributaries of the French Broad Watershed, installed more than 700 live stakes to prevent erosion and sediment pollution, removed invasive plans to restore the Dingle Creek Watershed, and provided help with three research studies. Christ School committed over 300 students and supervising adults to this initiative, resulting in more than 930 service hours to benefit the French Broad Watershed.

"These projects allowed me to combine my commitment to service and the environment with my interest in science," William said.


William's overall commitment and efforts to involve Christ School in his conservation work has not gone unnoticed.

"The term servant leader is hard to define, but I know one when I see one. William is the epitome of a service leader," Christ School History instructor Isaac Rankin said. "He puts the needs of others before his own and identifies those needs as a genuine opportunity to make an improvement over time. For a 15-year old, his ability to plan a long-range program to help western North Carolina, while engaging his school community in the process, is truly remarkable. Through his organization, hard work, and example, William demonstrates the leadership that matches his compassion and servanthood. I have never worked with a more impressive 10th grader in my career in education."

"William David is an exceptional young man and dedicated Scout, exemplifying what Scouting is all about – character, leadership, and cheerful service," Scout Executive Joshua Christ said. "We are very proud of William's accomplishments, first for achieving the coveted rank of Eagle Scout and now earning the prestigious William T. Hornaday Silver Award, which was created to recognize those Scouts who have made a very significant impact to conservation. William is only the second Scout in the 98-year history of the Daniel Boone Council to earn this achievement. We are all extremely proud of William for organizing these projects to benefit conservation efforts in western North Carolina. We hope his leadership motivates other Scouts to follow in his footsteps and work towards this amazing accomplishment. William has a very bright future in whatever he decides to do and Scouting is proud to be a part of his overall development."

The Hornaday Silver Medal is presented by the Boy Scouts, but every candidate's work is judged by a panel of national conservation experts who convene twice a year. William has also earned 133 merit badges and 14 Eagle Palm awards through the Boy Scouts.

Recently, he also earned the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award to youth that is bestowed by the U.S. Congress. William will travel to Washington, D.C. in June 2019 to be presented the award by Congress. He earned the award in part due to his community service work in conservation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.

"I want to thank my mentors for their support and encouragement – Mr. Jonathan Marchal of the N.C. Arboretum and Dr. Albert "Bud" Mayfield of the USFS Southern Research Station. Thank you to the other conservation professionals and organizations for all you taught me and the volunteers, especially RiverLink, MountainTrue, and Asheville GreenWorks.

"I especially want to thank the student volunteers and faculty from my schools – Christ School, and formerly Asheville Catholic School, as well as the scout volunteers and leaders," William added. "I encourage other students to act on the needs they see in their community and seek out experts to advise them. The most powerful part of my experience was to see how much more we could all accomplish together."

William has previously won two other major conservation awards – the Roosevelt-Ashe Outstanding Youth in Conservation Award, presented by Wild South with consideration for students (including those in college) from seven Southeastern states. He was also recognized as a regional winner of the Kohl's Cares Scholarship for his conservation work. William has been part of the High Honor Roll at Christ School since his arrival in the eighth grade, an Honor Council Representative, and Headmaster's Scholar. He is a student leader of the FIRST Robotics Competition Team 5854 at UNC Asheville. William co-founded and runs the "Future Builders" STEM mentorship and education program. It is a weekly after-school and summer program that provides support and opportunities to disadvantaged students.

During the summer of 2018, William was part of the Florida Sea Base High Adventure Marine Conservation service trip, a partnership with the Mote Marine Laboratory. Additionally, he used his Scuba Merit Badge and Open Water Diver Certification as a Boy Scout to participate in the Coral Conservation Project in Grand Cayman.

William is the second member of his family and second Christ School student to win a Hornaday Silver Medal. His older brother, Bennett '18, is a Robertson Scholar at Duke University. The David brothers co-founded and maintain the "Scout Conservation Help Wanted" page on Facebook which encourages environmental awareness and action.