Professor receives award for involvement with Boy Scouts

Stuart Burris has been a chemistry professor at WKU for 15 years, but in his spare time he is involved with Boy Scouts of America. “All of the activities that we do as adult scouters, we do for the boys. Thats our tagline. I have a teenage son, and he’s a reason why I became an adult scouter,” Burris said.

Stuart Burris, associate professor and department chair in the chemistry department, said his history with the Boy Scouts of America started when his son came home with a flier. Now, 10 years later, he has been recognized for his dedication to the organization with the Silver Beaver Award.

The Silver Beaver Award is presented to a registered adult leader who has shown dedication, hard work and self-sacrifice through their years of service with the Boy Scouts, according to a press release. It is awarded to leaders who have made an impact on the youth they serve.

Burris serves as the Wapiti District Chair and a committee member for Troop 705 in Bowling Green.

When Burris first started attending Cub Scout meetings with his son, he described himself as “the dad to sit in the corner and watch things happen.” He said he slowly kept getting more involved. At the end of that academic year, his son’s den leader moved to Texas. Burris said that he asked him to take over.

Burris helped to build Troop 705 with David Knoche in 2012. Burris said the troop began with six boys but now has grown to around 50. Knoche and Burris met when their sons began scouting together. Burris recalled being in the right place at the right time to start the troop. 

Josh Brown, district executive of the Wapiti district, called Burris one of the most dedicated scout leaders he has ever met.

“He is the embodiment of what being a scouter truly is,” Brown said.  

Burris continued to work in several positions in different troops and completed several projects and events. He said the phrase he keeps in mind is, “It’s for the boys.”

Though never a Boy Scout himself, Burris said he enjoyed the work the Boy Scouts were doing and how it was focused on building character.

“It’s mostly focused on citizenship and personal development, and it’s woven around fun,” Burris said.

Knoche said that Burris’s Silver Beaver Award is well-deserved.

“He has been tireless and had made a great deal of personal sacrifice to see these boys grow and develop to learn the goal of scouting - that being to teach them to be able to make moral and ethical choices in all they do for the rest of their lives,” Knoche said in an email.

According to a press release, Burris was nominated by the Lincoln Heritage Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Burris called the award an honor.

“You get recognized for this award, I think, for doing what you do,” he said. “You get recognized for serving youth and being a valuable person to the growth of the boys in the program.”

Burris has been the recipient of many other awards related to scouting including the Unit Leader Award of Merit, Scouter’s Training Award, Scouter’s Key, Good Shepherd Religious Award, and is a member of the Order of the Arrow, the press release stated.

The Silver Beaver Award was presented to Burris on April 14 at a ceremony in Elizabethtown.

“You get involved, and you don’t do this stuff for you,” Burris said. “It’s always for the boys.”

Features reporter Laurel Deppen can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected].