Tennessee Guards Host Annual Merit Badge University

Nearly 400 scouts earned merit badges at a special event in Nashville.

The Tennessee National Guard recently hosted its 3rd Annual Merit Badge University at the Joint Force Headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, welcoming nearly 400 scouts from the Middle Tennessee Council and beyond. This event, held on April 27, aimed to support the scouts in living up to their motto, “be prepared,” by offering them an opportunity to earn merit badges in various specialized areas.

Maj. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee’s Adjutant General, expressed his support for the event, highlighting the importance of scouting in developing leadership skills and citizenship. More than 50 Soldiers, Airmen, and volunteers, including those from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, facilitated 23 merit badge classes. These classes covered a wide range of subjects, from Eagle Scout-required badges to professional-based programs, allowing scouts to gain new skills and make progress towards the Eagle Scout rank. By the end of the event, nearly 400 merit badges were awarded.

Sgt. 1st Class Ken Weichert, the coordinator for the Merit Badge University, noted the diversity of the badges offered and the unique opportunity for scouts to learn from Guardsmen and professionals in various fields. Classes included topics like search and rescue, auto maintenance, law, personal fitness, engineering, and first aid. Additionally, Maj. Gen. Ross personally taught the citizenship in the nation merit badge and organized a field trip to the state capital.

The event not only served as an educational experience for the scouts but also as an inspiration for their future career paths. Many Guardsmen shared how their own experiences with merit badges influenced their career choices and hobbies. Weichert, a professional in exercise science and a certified life coach, shared how the personal fitness merit badge sparked his lifelong passion and career.

Reflecting on the success of this year’s Merit Badge University, Weichert emphasized the importance of such events in connecting Guardsmen with the community and inspiring the next generation. The Tennessee National Guard looks forward to continuing this tradition and hosting the event again next year.

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