Eagle Scout John-Aaron Bozanic of Fountain Valley, Calif., is on a quest to pick up 1 million pieces of trash. He collected about 5,000 pieces of random items and shards of broken glass in Northern Nevada alone last week while stopping at Grimes Point and the Hidden Cave east of Fallon taking in the site’s historic petroglyphs at the same time.
Bozanic, 19, of Crew 774 of the Orange County Council in Laguna Woods, Calif., is more than two-thirds on his way toward meeting his goal of earning his Hornaday Award to collect 1 million pieces of trash. The Hornaday award, named after the New York Zoological Park and National Zoo director of the early 20th century, became a Boy Scouts of America honor to promote environmental ethics, and any scout or Venturer willing to devote the time to support good conservation practices.
“This is the fourth project I’ve been working on from an environmental standpoint,” Bozanic said on Aug. 4.
An underwater project off the coast near his home in Orange County, Calif., he originally considered was canceled, but another opportunity presented itself.
“I figured since everyone else is self-quarantined, why don’t I enlist everyone else to help collect 1 million pieces of trash?” he said.
It became a chance to explore the outdoors, do some backpacking and see neighboring states, another interest he developed as a scout, and help clean the environment at the same time. He got his efforts off the ground at home, reaching out online and through social media, his project soon began branching out to other states and countries. He’s received strong support, receiving questions about how they can help.
“There’s a lot people can do by their house, on their streets, at different parks, and it doesn’t take much time out of their day or with much effort to pick up some trash,” he said.
Bozanic has been scouting since just before he turned 12 and earned 87 merit badges and a number of high honors for his activities with his troop along the way.
“People seem to like this a lot, and I find it amazing that people are willing to go so far out of their way to help me,” he said, adding one group reported 9,000 pieces of trash in one pickup. “It’s amazing what people are giving, how willing they are to help me, and not just to help me out but to help out the planet as a whole.”
As of Monday, Bozanic reported his project overall had involved 6,698 volunteers who had picked up 756,925 pieces, or 181,001 pounds, of trash, and that had equated to 16,696 volunteer hours.
The volunteers have collected all sorts of refuse from car bumpers and boat trailer jacks to bags of trash torn open by animals, he said. One fortunate participant found a $100 bill.
“They’ve found all sorts of really cool things, and they’re taking them to local dumpsters in their areas,” he said. “Depending on how much, they might toss it in their trash cans in their parks or take it to waste areas.”
For anyone interested in getting involved, it’s especially important to record what they find, take photos of what they dispose of and submit their photos and logs to Bozanic for his purposes. Bozanic is logging everything through a Google Docs form on his Facebook page, which he ultimately will provide to his national Hornaday committee for review. The form asks 11 questions, including participants’ names, where trash was picked up and the number of pieces and pounds of trash collected.
Bozanic’s father, Jeff, has joined his son on his trip and said he’s proud of all three of his children, with his older son, 23, now a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, and his daughter, 16, who is in the Scouts BSA as a Life Scout working on her Eagle rank. Jeff Bozanic has been an adult leader in their Scouting program since John-Aaron first joined. The Bozanic family also has supported John-Aaron’s efforts to collect trash and kept at it this weekend by visiting San Juan Island in Washington, stopping at two national parks and continuing his project at both sites.
“He’s been in the Scouting program now for eight years, and the growth I’ve seen as a result of his scouting is phenomenal,” Jeff Bozanic said. “It’s different than school and it’s different than church groups. It’s a combination of teaching life skills and ethics and the ability to be able to take care of oneself and executive management skills all kind of rolled into one program. … And I really, really appreciate what the scouting program has been able to do.”
If the committee approves John-Aaron’s project, he will receive his award.
For information, e-mail him at email@example.com. The public also can download the collections form at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe5IjKIT6H_GSXiyeajEQkWdIeG-NxFhfmH8oqD9YpXQlP0MQ/viewform and to e-mail it back, share stories and send photos to the e-mail address listed above. He also is available to provide virtual or in-person talks about the project upon request.