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More Boy Scouts Earn Graphic Arts, Paper Merit Badges at Museum

May 12, 2011
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CARSON, CA—May 12, 2011—The day before Mother’s Day, 88 Boy Scouts earned their Graphic Arts and Pulp and Paper merit badges at the International Printing Museum. Thanks to the help of more than 30 museum and industry volunteers, including representatives from BurdgeCooper, Mohawk Paper and the Printing Industries Association of Southern California (PIASC), the boys made paper, silk screened T-shirts and printed their mom a Mother’s Day card that they designed themselves.

Ten groups of boys rotated every half hour to various stations set up around the museum property in order to pass the requirements for the two merit badges. One of the requirements was a visit to a paper mill so, courtesy of xpedx Paper’s Nan Fessler, the boys took a video tour of a NewPage paper mill. Dan Freeland of Southwest Offset led the boys on the journey from trees to pulp and paper to printer.

In the museum’s parking lot, volunteers helped the boys blend pulp supplied by Mohawk Paper. That pulp was then poured onto wire frames for drying, allowing each boy to take home the paper they made.

Along with making a Mother’s Day card, boys who brought a shirt were able to silk screen their own commemorative “Merit Badge Day T-shirt” under the instruction of Art Lindauer. Leland Scott taught the boys about various bindery methods, while Craig Nelson of BurdgeCooper taught the boys how to identify the various types of printing they run across at home and at school. Dennis Howey, a graphic arts professor at Cal State Fullerton, and Bob Lindgren, PIASC president, fulfilled the Graphic Arts Merit Badge requirement of teaching the boys about employment opportunities within the industry.

Saturday was the first of what will be many more Merit Badge days at the Printing Museum. Currently, there are more than 200 more boys who have signed up for future Merit Badge Days. The next one is set for June 18, and another on October 22.

The Graphic Arts Merit Badge Day was the brainchild of Don Burdge, president of BurdgeCooper, and Mark Barbour, curator of the museum.

“For the past eight years, I have been a merit badge counselor for both the Graphic Arts and Pulp and Paper merit badges,” said Burdge, “During that time, only one boy called to get his Graphic Arts merit badge and he never showed up for his appointment.” Burdge, who was the Chairman of the Southern California Printing Industry Trade Association in 2009, experienced the decline of the printing industry during his tenure and witnessed the lack of funding in the education system for printing programs.

“Fewer and fewer boys are learning about our industry and I thought there might be a desire among the Boy Scouts to learn while earning a merit badge,” continued Burdge. “A few years ago, I contacted the Boy Scout National Office and learned that the Graphic Arts and Pulp and Paper merit badges were among the least popular of all the merit badges boys can earn.

“As the father of an eagle scout, I remembered that merit badge days were popular among boys seeking rank advancement so I approached Mark Barbour about a year ago with the idea. Mark, in the mean time, had been working on a way to get the Boy Scouts more involved with the museum. The two of us came up with the idea of creating a Merit Badge Day.” Mark and Don, along with Dan Feedland and Ethan Lipton, professor of graphic communications at Cal State Los Angeles, created the program for the scouts to complete the fifteen requirements for the two merit badges in one day.

Don Burdge and Ethan Lipton, along with other industry volunteers with scouting connections, then contacted the five Boy Scout districts in the Greater Los Angeles area to promote the event. When the director of programming in the Orange County Boy Scout Council heard about the opportunity, he sent an e-mail blast out to his district. Within 24 hours, more than 100 boys had signed up. By the end of the month, there were over 300 boys registered to earn the two merit badges.

When asked why they signed up, one boy from Orange County said he had always been interested in Graphic Arts and the day sounded, “Cool.” Another boy said he liked engineering and he thought a job in this industry might be interesting. A third scout said he was there because his friend decided to come and he liked the chance to make something.

Because of the Merit Badge Day, the museum now has a steady stream of new visitors, the Boy Scouts now have a way to learn about our industry while earning two merit badges, and the industry is once again educating a group of smart and engaged boys who will soon enter the workforce. Now hundreds of boys will learn about the careers and benefits of the graphic arts and paper industries.

BurdgeCooper will continue support this program, both financially and logistically, and will ensure that there is a link between the Boy Scouts of America and the printing and paper industries for years to come.

Source: BurdgeCooper.

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