University welcomes area scouts for Merit Badge College

Charlie Smith (right) oversees William Bouldin as he gains hands-on experience while earning a welding merit badge at the UM Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. The session was part of a recent College Merit Badge held at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Jason Bouldin

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi regularly draws students from across the country and even the world, but it’s a different type of college experience that has recently drawn students from across Northeast Mississippi to the Ole Miss campus.

About 65 young members of Scouts of America attended a one-day merit badge college, sponsored by the BSA’s Chicksa District Yocona Regional Council. Scouts chose from 10 different merit badges: astronomy, chess, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, numismatics, digital technology, geology, nuclear science, philately and welding.

Scouts could enroll in two courses, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The university’s classrooms and labs, along with the teaching expertise of its faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, made the college’s accommodation a natural fit for the university, Ben Pharr said. , director of the university’s Mississippi Center for Supercomputing Research and one of the organizers.

Ben Pharr (right), director of the Mississippi Center for Supercomputing Research and assistant scoutmaster for BSA Troop 144 in Oxford, addresses scouts in northeastern Mississippi at the recent Merit Badge College held recently at the University of Mississippi. Photo by Jason Bouldin

“There are too many resources in town and on campus not to,” said Pharr, also deputy scout leader of Troop 144 in Oxford. “It makes perfect sense.”

The BSA Merit Badge program introduces Scouts to a wide range of knowledge and skills. Over 135 merit badges are available, including badges involving outdoor skills, sports and recreation, crafts, business, trades, citizenship, and STEM fields. The program plays a major role in the advancement of a Scout.

This year, participants came from eight of the council’s troops, including three women: Troop 43 in Oxford and Troops 92 and 2627 from Tupelo.

Most classes were held at Bishop Hall. Digital technology was taught in a Weir Hall computer lab and soldering was taught at Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

Scouts enrolled in Welding were able to use advanced tools and high-speed equipment in CME’s simulated factory to gain hands-on experience, and they received a solid introduction to welding concepts.

“The University of Mississippi is proud to host Merit Badge College for the Chicksa District,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “As an Eagle Scout myself, I believe in the value of earning merit badges.

Boy Scouts Tate Lynn (left) and William Bouldin show off their protective gear for the Welding Merit Badge at the UM Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. Photo by Jason Bouldin

“As a leading educational institution, we recognize that learning on our campus demystifies college and reinforces the value of education. In addition, Ole Miss offers scholarships to Eagle Scouts, and I hope these participants will continue to progress through the Scouting program.

The Scouts’ registration included lunch at the Rebel Market and they were able to explore part of the campus between sessions.

“We are extremely grateful to the University of Mississippi for helping us host this Merit Badge College and for being a partner in BSA’s mission to provide unique experiences, leadership and character development opportunities for young people in our area,” said Joe Connole, the council’s senior adviser. district executive.

BSA is a national voluntary organization that focuses on character development, outdoor education, public service, community involvement and leadership.

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