New Award Teaches Youth About History of Erie Canal

By John Whitford

The Erie Canal Museum and the William Hillcourt Museum/Longhouse Council BSA announce the launch of the Erie Canal Historic Trails Award. The community is welcome to join us as we inaugurate this new award and launch it from the Erie Canal Museum at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 18. There is free parking at the New York State parking lot nearby. Admission this day is free, but visitors are encouraged to make a donation in support of the museum. Following a few brief comments, there will be a 1-mile walking tour of downtown Syracuse at 11 a.m. for those wishing to participate.

Cubs and Scouts in grades 5-12 – and all youth ages 10-18 – are welcome to increase their knowledge about the Erie Canal, its history, and its importance to Central New York, the state, and the nation through their participation in earning this unique recognition. A visit to the museum will actually fulfill one of the requirements to earn the trail award for any youth ages 10 and older.

Any youth group, Girl Scouts of America, Scouts BSA, 4H, church group, family, school group and others are welcome to join in this fun and educational experience. A patch, hiking staff medallion, and trail medal will be available for purchase – only the trail medal is restricted where youths must complete the requirements. The hiking medallions and patches are available for anyone to purchase and to wear or use as they please. We plan to have patches, medallions, and trail medals for sale at the kickoff. Please note that the trail medals require completion of a number of requirements, and must be ordered by an adult who signs off that those getting the medals have earned the award. Youths may work with their leaders or adult partners in advance of the kickoff date to complete the award and may turn in the medal order form at the event. Initially, the number of medals, patches, and medallions available may be limited and will be sold on a first come, first served basis.

The design on the trail medal is taken from the statue of the mule driver and mule that is near the museum. Tom Tischler is the sculptor that designed the statue. Tom is also an Eagle Scout and has graciously granted us the right to use his design on our medal.

Requirements to earn the Erie Canal Trail Medal and an order form for the medals, patches, and hiking staff medallions can be found on the William Hillcourt Museum website,

As an added bonus, everyone that completes the 15 miles of hiking, cycling, or boating along the canal will not only complete the requirements for the hiking portion of the trail medal, but will also be able to apply for recognition for the Canalway Challenge. Learn more at

John Whitford is an Eagle Scout, retired district director with the BSA, and an active volunteer.


Onondaga Community College Announces Next President

Onondaga Community College has a new president.

Dr. Warren Hilton will take over for Dr. Casey Crabill, who is retiring, on July 1.

Most recently, Hilton served as the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Kutztown University, and he has worked as an administrator at several other colleges, including Drexel University, Moravian College and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He will be OCC’s first Black president.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected as Onondaga Community College’s next President,” said Hilton in a press release. “Everyone with whom I have met has demonstrated that OCC is a student-centered institution and poised to have an even greater impact upon current and future students and economic growth in the region. I look forward to collaboratively planning for and working toward OCC’s bright future.”


Family Times Honored by Syracuse Press Club

Family Times was recently recognized by the Syracuse Press Club, receiving an Honorable Mention for “Best Overall Magazine” at its annual awards ceremony on May 7.

To view the full list of winners, visit

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