Chicago Scouts Earn Trade Merit Badges

Lisa Fielding
July 08, 2019 - 1:57 pm
Chicago-area Boy and Girl Scouts spent the day at the Plumber's Union Local 130 earning career merit badges.

Myriam Herrera, Development Director, Boy Scouts of America

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Chicago-area Scouts BSA spent the day at the Plumber's Union Local 130 earning career merit badges.

"Today, we're putting them through basic welding techniques, but we are also teaching them about safety," said Frank Borkowski, Instructor.

Twenty-eight boys and girls are working with apprentices to learn about virtual and manual welding.

"This program evolved from something called 'Trading Tech' where we took the kids into different professional offices. We focused on professionals that could teach the kids their merit badge directly so they could see beyond the merit badge how much of the real world is involved in what they are learning," said Myriam Herrera, Development Director, Boy Scouts of America.

Herrera said it's all about exposing teens to real-world trade skills.

"To me, it just opens other avenues to these kids. It gives them a full emersion in the gibbon field and then they even get to talk to them about what can I expect to make in this field. It really opens their eyes as to what a great possibility this may be," she said.

Chicago-area Boy and Girl Scouts spent the day at the Plumber's Union Local 130 earning career merit badges.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Borkowski said welding is the number one unfilled job in America.

"There's a massive shortage of skilled labor work especially in the plumbing and welding areas. Anytime you can learn both, they are a better craftsmen and more financially sought after," he said.

Chicago-area Boy and Girl Scouts spent the day at the Plumber's Union Local 130 earning career merit badges.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Herrera said the program allows the Scouts to learn about careers beyond the classroom. She said it's specialized for teens who may not go to college.

"I got an email from a mom saying could you please do more with the skilled trades. I can see that my son is not headed to college and I'd like for him to get a chance to sample a variety of trades. We continue to expose kids and get them more opportunities," Herrera said.

Each Scout will create their own plate with their initials welded into it.

Chicago-area Boy and Girl Scouts spent the day at the Plumber's Union Local 130 earning career merit badges.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

"The virtual welding experience was super fun," said Max Gonzalez, 13, 8th grade. "I think it's really cool to learn something like this. All the merit badges I've done I've really enjoyed."

Borkowski said it's great to see "their eyes open up and do something they've never tried and to give them confidence."

So far the Scouts have earned merit badges in wood working and carpentry, business, law, and public speaking.