Left to right: Senator Rick Scott, football player Ronde Barber and Director of Field Service Dwayne Jones participated in a virtual recognition of service to the community from the Boy Scouts of America to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office last month.

By Brandon Kathman

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office received the Boy Scouts of America’s Participating Citizenship Award for service to the community at a virtual event on October 26.

“We are extremely excited to showcase the work of law enforcement…who have been instrumental in helping all of us stay safe and move through uncharted circumstances,” the council’s director of field service, Dwayne Jones, said. “How we work together makes our communities better.”

The Participating Citizenship Award “recognizes the selfless service of local heroes,” including law enforcement canines, Jones said. Senator Rick Scott and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ronde Barber also made appearances during the program, thanking both the sheriff’s office and local Scouting volunteers.

“Trying times prioritize what is important and now, more than ever, tying as many threads together for a common cause is essential,” Barber told viewers.

Barber expressed a sense of shared obligation between volunteer-led programs like the Boy Scouts and law enforcement as ‘servants of the public’ to better the lives of young people in local communities.

During his appearance, Scott referenced his own time in Scouting. He remembered signing up for the Cub Scouts in the second grade and eventually receiving Scouting’ highest honor, the Eagle Scout rank.

“The lessons I learned as I became an Eagle Scout have helped me all my life,” Scott said. “I want to thank all of the volunteers, all of the troop leaders and all of the law enforcement that help our Scouts. Keep up the good work, and never stop pursuing your dreams.”

According to the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Boy Scouts of America maintain a longstanding partnership through the Law Enforcement Explorers Program. A separate branch of Scouting, Explorers’ posts are dedicated to vocational learning. For law enforcement programs like Hillsborough’s Post 238, this consists of experiential activities and competition.

Jones concluded the program by asking 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.

“Through all of this, we are excited to know that many of the tenets 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.”