There is a very close connection between the soil, the plants, and all animal life, including people. Understanding this connection, and the impact we have upon it, is important to preserving the wilderness, as well as to our own well-being as members of the web of nature.


  1. Name three ways in which plants are important to animals. Name a plant that is protected in your state or region, and explain why it is at risk.
  2. Name three ways in which animals are important to plants. Name an animal that is protected in your state or region, and explain why it is at risk.
  3. Explain the term "food chain." Give an example of a four-step land food chain and a four-step water food chain.
  4. Do all of the requirements in FIVE of the following fields:
    1. Birds
      1. In the field, identify eight species of birds.
      2. Make and set out a birdhouse OR a feeding station OR a birdbath.
        List what birds used it during a period of one month.
    2. Mammals
      1. In the field, identify three species of wild animals.
      2. Make plaster casts of the tracks of a wild mammal.
    3. Reptiles and Amphibians
      1. Show that you can recognize the venomous snakes in your area.
      2. In the field, identify three species of reptiles or amphibians.
      3. Recognize one species of toad or frog by voice; OR identify one reptile or amphibian by eggs, den, burrow, or other signs.
    4. Insects and Spiders
      1. Collect, mount, and label 10 species of insects or spiders.
      2. Hatch an insect from the pupa or cocoon; OR hatch adults from nymphs; OR keep larvae until they form pupae or cocoons; OR keep a colony of ants or bees through one season.
    5. Fish
      1. Catch and identify two species of fish.
      2. Collect four kinds of animal food eaten by fish in the wild.
    6. Mollusks and Crustaceans
      1. Identify five species of mollusks and crustaceans.
      2. Collect, mount, and label six shells.
    7. Plants
      1. In the field, identify 15 species of wild plants.
      2. Collect and label the seeds of six plants OR the leaves of 12 plants.
    8. Soils and Rocks
      1. Collect and identify soils found in different layers of a soil profile.
      2. Collect and identify five different types of rocks from your area.
NOTE: In most cases all specimens should be returned to the wild at the location of original capture after the requirements have been met. Check with your merit badge counselor for those instances where the return of these specimens would not be appropriate.
Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, some plants and animals are or may be protected by federal law. The same ones and/or others may be protected by state law. Be sure that you do not collect protected species.
Your state may require that you purchase and carry a license to collect certain species. Check with the wildlife and fish and game officials in your state regarding species regulations before you begin to collect.


Scouting Literature

  • Animal Science, Backpacking, Bird Study, Camping, Canoeing, Fish and Wildlife Management, Fishing, Fly-Fishing, Forestry, Gardening, Geology, Hiking, Insect Study, Mammal Study, Oceanography, Photography, Plant Science, Reptile and Amphibian Study, Soil and Water Conservation, and Wilderness Survival merit badge pamphlets
  • Conservation Handbook, No. 33570
  • Fieldbook, No. 33200A
  • The Principles of Leave No Trace, No. 21-105


  • Arnett, Ross H. American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico, 2nd edition. CRC Press, 2000.
  • Behler, John. Reptiles (The National Audubon Society First Field Guide). Scholastic Trade, 1999.
  • Bland, Roger G., and H. E. Jaques. How to Know the Insects. McGraw-Hill, 1978.
  • Cassie, Brian. Amphibians (The National Audubon Society First Field Guide). Scholastic Trade, 1999.
  • Cowan, Andrew. Crustaceans. Picador USA, 2002.
  • Dillon, Mike. The Great Birdhouse Book. Sterling Publications, 2000.
  • Elpel, Thomas J. Botany in a Day: Thomas J. Elpel's Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families, 4th edition. HOPS Press, 2000.
  • Fichter, George S., and Phil Francis. Fishing: A Guide to Fresh and Salt-Water. St. Martin's Press, 2001.
  • Griggs, Jack, editor. All the Birds of North America: American Bird Conservancy's Field Guide. Harper Collins, 1997.
  • Harris, James G. Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary. Spring Lake Publishers, 2001.
  • Levine, Lynn, and Martha Mitchell. Mammal Tracks: Life-Size Tracking Guide. Heartwood Press, 2001.
  • MacDonald, David, and Sasha Norris, editors. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Barnes & Noble Books, 2001.
  • Mattison, Chris. Snake: The Essential Visual Guide to the World of Snakes. DK Publishing, 1999.
  • Rehder, Harald A. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Seashells. Knopf, 1981.
  • Tarbuck, Edward J., et al. Earth: An Introduction to Physical Geology. Prentice Hall, 2002.
  • Wernert, Susan J., editor. Reader's Digest North American Wildlife. Reader's Digest Adult, 1998.