Dayton man receives ‘Olympic medal bestowed by Earth’
DAYTON — When he’s outside, camping or hiking, Devin Galloway said he feels a connection to the divine.
“It’s definitely a spiritual experience,” he said.
That relationship was fostered, he said, in his years as a Boy Scout in Dayton working with Allen Newberry, who also served at the time as his bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as his leader.
“In my experience with Bishop Newberry, he always treated the world as sacred,” Galloway said. “He always had a deep reverence for the Earth.”
Galloway was among the speakers Saturday at a ceremony to present Newberry, 64, with the William T. Hornaday Gold Medal, a national Boy Scouts of America recognition for those who have “rendered distinguished and unusual service to natural resources conservation.”
“I feel good, but I’m a little embarrassed,” said Newberry, who worked 36 years in state parks, retiring from the Nevada Division of State Parks. He has volunteered 50 years with the Boy Scouts of America, 20 as a scout master. He continues to work in outdoor ethics education and in the Tread Lightly and Leave No Trace programs.
In his own years as a Boy Scout, Newberry said, he became acquainted with the principles of conservation and knew he wanted to spend his life as a steward of the land.
“I decided early I wanted to be a forester,” he said. “I wanted to preserve the land for future generations who want to enjoy it. Any day outside is a good day.”
Nominations for the award — which has been given to 48 recipients since 1937 — must come from a federal conservation agency. According to the Boy Scouts of America website, the prestigious award should be considered “an Olympic medal bestowed by the Earth.”
Jason Kling, who worked with Newberry in the Boy Scout program in Dayton, nominated Newberry on behalf of the United States Forest Service.
“Allen has rendered distinguished and unusual service to natural resource conservation and environmental improvement over a sustained period at the local, regional and national level for much greater than 20 consecutive years,” Kling wrote. “Allen has been able to accomplish many things that have influenced youth and education programs emphasizing sound stewardship of our nation’s natural resources and environmental improvement.”
Not only does Newberry have an extensive knowledge of outdoor ethics, said Boy Scout colleague Bill Brewer, he also has an effective manner of sharing that knowledge.
“One of the great things about Allen is his passion for the outdoors,” Brewer said. “But he’s not one of those weirdos you hate to see coming. He can talk to you about conservation in a way that makes you want to be more careful.”
Newberry gave credit to his wife, Sherry, of 43 years, although her family discouraged her from marrying a park ranger.
“They said you’ll always be out in the sticks, and you’ll always be broke,” Newberry said. “We’ve always been out in the sticks, and we’ve always been broke. Her family was right. But I would not have been able to do what I’ve done in life with my wife.”
His true legacy, he said, would not be awards but the young men and women he’s taught and continues to teach.
“That they’re good stewards to the land and trying to make a difference,” he said. “They’re preserving the land for their kids.”