SEBRING — The Boy Scouts of America’s regional Greater Tampa Bay Area Council will honor local sheriff’s offices with Participating Citizenship Awards in a series of virtual events from Oct. 26-28.
The Badge of Honor Virtual Event “recognizes the selfless service of local heroes” in the nine departments serving the council’s territory, including deputies of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, according to Dwayne Jones, the council’s director of field service. Local premieres of each county’s honoree tribute will feature guest appearances by Senator Rick Scott, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers standout Ronde Barber.
Highlands County’s ceremony is slated to be streamed at 7 p.m. Oct. 27. The council will also recognize the sheriff’s offices of Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, and Sumter counties during separate streamed ceremonies throughout the week.
“Through all of this, we are excited to know that many of the tenants of Scouting – such as helping our neighbors, checking in on those in need, and putting others before ourselves – has strengthened our sense of community and civic duty,” Jones said. “Participating citizenship is at the foundation of the lessons learned in the Scouting programs.”
The Boy Scouts of America partners with numerous agencies across the country to offer the Law Enforcement Exploring Program to young men and women ages 14-21. Locally, the program gives youth in Highlands County an experiential education of the criminal justice system through training and competition in Post 2247.
“The program does so much good for our youth by helping develop character and setting them on the right direction in life,” District Executive Julie Diaz-Plante said.
The Greater Tampa Bay Area Council also hosts the deputies of sheriff’s offices and state troopers during regular training sessions at Sand Hill Scout Reservation’s outdoor shooting ranges. Even police canines train on the property on occasion.
“The community wouldn’t be what it is without law enforcement keeping our families safe,” said Holly Swenson, a parent with Troop 433.
The event will also provide an opportunity for viewers to donate to support local programs like Exploring and traditional Scouting. According to the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council, this will help Scouting’s districts and properties weather what has been a challenging year for all nonprofit organizations.
“We’re hoping that our community will join us in the virtual event to honor our members of law enforcement and support local youth programs,” Diaz-Plante said.
The Highlands County Badge of Honor Event can be viewed at https://app.mobilecause.com/e/5G-YNA?vid=c55ar