BSA recognizes the 2024 recipients of the Silver Buffalo Award, presented for distinguished service to youth

BSA recognizes the 2024 recipients of the Silver Buffalo Award, presented for distinguished service to youth

The 2024 recipients of the Silver Buffalo Award come from all across the country and different walks of life. One thing they have in common: Each of them has provided truly noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth.

Established in 1925, the Silver Buffalo is Scouting’s highest commendation. It recognizes service to youth either nationally or internationally, whether connected to the Scouting or not.

The 2024 class was announced in March and officially recognized tonight at a banquet during the National Annual Meeting.

2024 Silver Buffalo honorees

The year’s Silver Buffalo recipients are (* denotes that the recipient is an Eagle Scout):

Laurie J. Champion

Saline, Michigan

During more than 17 years of service, Laurie Champion has left her mark at the local, district, council and national levels of the Scouting. What she cherishes the most, however, is much closer to home. Her son, Nicholas, is an Eagle Scout. “Scouting has made a tremendous difference for my family and for me personally,” she says. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our youth through service in Scouting.”

After serving as a Cub Scout pack committee chair and then Scouts BSA troop committee chair, Champion served on her district committee and, eventually, the Michigan Crossroads Council board. She is currently serving as council president. Her Scouting awards include the Commissioner Arrowhead Honor, the Silver Beaver Award, the District Award of Merit, and the Scouter’s Training Award. Her experience in risk management has proven invaluable to Scouting. Champion is a managing director of Marsh & McLennan, a leading risk management firm; a member of the Risk & Insurance Management Society; and a chartered property casualty underwriter. That expertise has informed her service on the National Program Safety Subcommittee, National Insurance Subcommittee, National Governance Task Force, and Scouts BSA Committee. Champion also volunteers for the City of Saline’s risk management working group, all while remaining active in mission, vision, and strategy at her place of worship, First Presbyterian Church of Saline.

“I cherish Scouting friendships developed over these many years,” she says. “The timeless values of Scouting, summarized in the Scout Oath and Law, and the life-changing experiences that Scouting offers continue to motivate me to do my personal best to ensure Scouting is available to all youth and families across America.”

Mark J. Chilutti*

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

An accomplished fundraising professional and motivational speaker, Mark Chilutti says it was his time in Scouting as a youth that shaped the adult he has become — and also what inspires him to continue to give back to the organization as a volunteer. “I credit what I learned at a young age in Scouting and the Order of the Arrow for making me the person I am today, both personally and professionally,” he says. “The experience I gained as a youth helped me when faced with significant challenges that changed the course of my life.”

Chilutti, who has been living an active life with a spinal cord injury for the past 27 years, has served 18 years on the National Order of the Arrow Committee; is in his third year of service on the National Finance & Fund Development Committee, for which he hosts a monthly webinar to help councils raise funds; and is a member of the National Special Needs and Disabilities Committee. He has served on the National Advancement Committee, a decade on the Northeast Region Board, and was the inaugural NST 13 Finance & Fund Development Lead.

A member of the Cradle of Liberty Council’s executive board for 21 years, Chilutti has served as council president, vice president, membership chair, alumni relations chair, advancement committee chair and Silver Beaver committee chair. Chilutti has dedicated much of his life to serving those with disabilities, both inside and outside of Scouting. As assistant vice president for the Magee Rehab Hospital Foundation, he has raised more than $50 million to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities. He has directed the hospital’s Wheelchair Tennis tournament for more than 15 years and has acted as a mentor for spinal cord injury patients. Chilutti has received the Silver Antelope, Silver Beaver and OA Distinguished Service awards. His wife, Jayne, is a member of the National Wheelchair Basketball Hall of Fame.

“If I live to be 100, I am not sure I could pay Scouting back for all it has given me, but I am going to keep on trying,” he says.

Kandra H. Dickerson

Grimes, Iowa

As vice chair of the National Program Development Committee, Kandra Dickerson helped connect council- and territory-level volunteers with the national program committees. And that’s just a fraction of what Dickerson has contributed to Scouting during her many years of service. She has served on staffs at the National Jamboree, World Jamboree and Philmont Training Center. She was a member of the National Alumni Association Committee, the Northern Tier High Adventure Base Committee and the Women of Character Event Committee. And she served four years on the National Operations Council.

“Scouting is more than a program; it is a way of life,” she says. “By the grace of God, I am able to walk this path. There are many amazing people in our community that I call dear friends.”

For her service, Dickerson has received the Silver Beaver, James E. West, Philmont Master Trainer, Vigil Honor, Distinguished Commissioner and Silver Antelope awards. She is an active member of the Methodist Church, serving on the Iowa United Methodist Foundation board of directors, and has also earned the United Methodist Cross and Flame Award. A retired CPA, she has judged Iowa high school and middle school National History Day competitions and is a member of P.E.O. International, a program designed to help women access financial support for education. Dickerson and her husband, John, have two children, Lindsey and Kasi.

“This Scouting way of life that we all share is a worthwhile endeavor for our time and resources,” she says. “As long as we pledge ourselves to Scouting’s mission, Scouting will always stand the test of time.”

Frederick “Rick” Hillenbrand*

Romney, West Virginia

When Rick Hillenbrand first met his wife, Barbie, he told her there was one thing she needed to know about him: He was addicted to Scouting. Soon after, she became a pack treasurer and committee member, and the rest is history. Hillenbrand, a representative to the West Virginia House of Delegates and retired Navy submarine qualified Engineering Duty officer, has been involved with Scouting as an adult volunteer for nearly four decades.

“Scouting imparts a set of core values that become ingrained in our very being,” he says. “Becoming an Eagle Scout set me on a transformative path, from securing an ROTC scholarship to attending college to becoming a founding member of the Eagle Scout fraternity at SUNY Maritime College and, later, as a career naval officer, and now, post-retirement, as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.”

Hillenbrand has served on the National Commissioner Service Team, the Northeast Region board, the Laurel Highlands and National Capital Area Council executive boards and as a council commissioner. He still serves as a Cub Scout pack committee chair. For his years of service to Scouting, he has received the District Award of Merit, Distinguished Commissioner Award and Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope awards. He was the leader of the team that designed, tested and deployed Commissioner Tools in 2014. Together he and Barbie have four sons, Karl, Christopher, Matt, and Wes, and seven grandchildren.

“Here’s the beautiful truth: Scouting isn’t limited to youth alone,” he says. “As countless Scouters can attest, our commitment to these enduring values continues into adulthood. Being a Scout isn’t a just a youth activity; it’s a lifelong journey.”

Jason P. Hood*

Memphis, Tennessee

Jason Hood remembers that when he was a young Scout, the adult leaders in his troop mentored him and encouraged him to eventually volunteer as an adult leader. With more than 40 years of service since then, he has been filling that same role for multiple generations of new Scouts. “The Boy Scouts of America has been life-changing for me over and over again,” he says.

At the national level, Hood has served on the Order of the Arrow Committee, the Program Development Support Committee and the Outdoor Programs Support Committee. He also served as the Chickasaw Council president and council commissioner, and on the council executive board. Hood has earned the OA Distinguished Service Award, the District Award of Merit, the Distinguished Commissioner Award and the Silver Antelope. He served as a Cubmaster and still serves on a troop committee.

Hood works as an attorney and counselor for Davies Hood PLLC, a general practice law firm that seeks to help individuals, small businesses and nonprofits and with their legal service needs. He and his wife, Betsy, have two children, Meredith and Griffin.

“The two most enduring lessons from my days as a youth member in the Boy Scouts have to do with first aid and citizenship,” he says. “Every day, I seem to use my first-aid knowledge. My Boy Scout Handbook had two pages facing themselves on citizenship. On one side the rights of citizens were listed; on the facing page was a list of responsibilities of citizens, including working to change things within the system if we did not like them. This continues to influence my everyday life as a member of my community, locally and beyond.”

David J. Kehrer

New Baden, Illinois

Ever since the initial Jamboree shakedown event in 2012, David Kehrer has been serving the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in West Virginia. At the Summit’s first National Jamboree in 2013, he served as the Shows and Events Area Lead. Kehrer held the role of Jamboree Shows and Events Executive Producer for the 2017 and 2023 National Scout Jamborees, as well as the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. More than 135,000 Scouts, leaders, parents and supporters of Scouting have been directly touched by the magic and the energy that are Jamboree shows. Kehrer also has served on SBR’s Facilities and Advisory Group.

Locally, Kehrer has served in many roles: roundtable leadership, merit badge counselor, and Eagle project adviser. A Vigil Honor member and fervent supporter of the Order of the Arrow, Kehrer has served as Thematics Lead for the Hub program area at the 2015 Centennial NOAC, the Section 2 OA Sash-n-Bash associate adviser, and as a chapter associate adviser. Kehrer’s focus is on engaging Scouts. When asked where the VIP section would be at a Jamboree show, Kehrer replied, “The VIP section is that large area in front of the stage and up the hill. The VIPs will be the young people in Scout uniforms cheering wildly.”

Kehrer endeavors to ensure the attention is focused on the young people in our programs: “We want the impact in the brief moment of a show to be powerful, but the real impact will be realized five, 10, and 20 years later in that young person’s life. We owe it to our young people to ‘bring them the stars.’”

Kehrer is the retired founder and chief creative officer of Meetings By Design, LLC, and now delivers propane in rural southern Illinois. He and his wife, Ann, have three children, Chris (an Eagle Scout), Katie and Adam, and one grandchild, Weston.

James D. Libbin

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Jim Libbin has served in leadership positions on teams that have effected critical changes in Scouting at the national, territory and council levels. The reward of leading youth keeps him coming back for more. “I have been blessed to work with hundreds of Scouts directly over the last 35 years,” he says. “They are the reason we all do what we do, but I have also truly enjoyed the many tremendous Scouter friends I have made.”

Libbin has served as Territory Commissioner Facilitator on the National Commissioner Service Team. He has been an area president and area commissioner and served as Western Region Training Chair and Western Region Commissioner. At the council level, he has been a unit, district, and council commissioner and served on the executive board and as council president. He says it’s his time as a pack committee chair and troop committee chair that he cherishes the most.

Libbin was also a Scoutmaster for 10 years. He has earned the Silver Beaver, Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Distinguished Commissioner Service Award, and the Silver Antelope. He has twice earned the William D. Boyce Award, given to volunteers who organize a new Scouting unit. Currently a professor emeritus at New Mexico State University, Libbin and his wife, Gail, have four children — Zack, Christina, Ian, and Aaron — and three grandchildren.

“I am more convinced today than I have ever been that Scouting is what America’s youth needs — so that is what America needs: character, values, and moral grounding,” he says. “Scouting was all of that to me as a youth, and it should be available to every young person in America.”

Bernard W. Lockard Jr.*

Indiana, Pennsylvania

Scouting runs in the Lockard family. Bernie Lockard Jr. is one of three generations of Eagle Scouts. “Scouting has been a part of my family for over 80 years,” Lockard says. “My father is an Eagle Scout, and my grandfather was his Scoutmaster. Likewise, for the last several years of my youth Scouting experience, my father was my Scoutmaster.”

It’s that long-held belief in the principles of Scouting that keep Lockard volunteering. He served as chairman of the national committees on Venturing and Council Finance and Fund Development. He was a facilitator on the Path Forward Churchill Committee and also served on the National Marketing Committee. He has served as council president of two councils — Penn’s Woods and Laurel Highlands. And he has been a troop committee chair twice and served as a Scoutmaster and Cubmaster.

He has earned the District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope and National Venturing Leadership awards. The achievement he’s most proud of is when he served as chair of an event called Campaganza, a celebration of the BSA’s 100th anniversary that drew 12,000 adults and youth.

“Baden Powell wrote, ‘Empowering boys to be leaders is the core of Scouting.’” Lockard says. “Fortunately, today we can expand that by including all youth. Scouting is the only youth program that builds true, lifelong leadership skills. And I know how that training helped my father, myself, and my children. That is why I am involved and why I believe the program will be relevant to America for another 114 years.”

He and his wife, Robyn, have five children — Meghan, Bernard III, Brendan, Maureen and Ash — and seven grandchildren.

Fred R. Norton Jr.*

Texarkana, Texas

For Freddy Norton, the only thing better than earning the rank of Eagle Scout himself was when he got to re-experience Scouting with his three sons, each of whom went on to also earn the rank of Eagle. Norton, a tax attorney with the Norton + Wood law firm, is the chair of the National Membership and Relationships Committee. He has also served on the national committees for Membership Support and National Program Support as well as the Wood Badge Update Task Force. He has volunteered at multiple Jamborees, including as Scoutmaster at the World Scout Jamboree in 2015 and assistant Scoutmaster in 2011.

He served as Scoutmaster at two National Scout Jamborees, as Subcamp Chief in 2017, and most recently as Base Camp Chief at the 2023 Jamboree. He has served two terms as council president and also served as Wood Badge Course Director.

 “The lessons learned in Scouting and the friendships forged have molded and sustained me, and it has been a privilege to share ‘The Promise of Scouting’ with others,” Norton says.

Norton has received the District Award of Merit, Silver Beaver, Unit Leader Award of Merit, and the Silver Antelope. He has also served as a den leader, Cubmaster, and assistant Scoutmaster. He attends Williams Memorial United Methodist Church, for which he volunteers as a trustee and Sunday school teacher. He says he couldn’t participate in Scouting to the degree he has without the support of his wife, Martha. The Nortons have three children, Ben, John, and William.

“There has been no greater joy in my life than re-experiencing the Scouting of my youth with my three sons,” Norton says, “and I know they are the men they have become due to Scouting’s influence in their lives.”

Louis (Lou) Paulson*

Walnut Creek, California

Lou Paulson has served Scouting at the national, council and district levels, but it’s one particular Scouting experience that means the most to him: canoeing 50 miles through the Boundary Waters with his son. “Scouting has allowed me to become better than I thought I could be,” Paulson says. “It has directed me to a career that I would have never considered, provided me with lifelong friends, and allowed my family to share special moments that only Scouting can offer.”

Paulson, president emeritus of California Professional Firefighters and a member of the National Fire Protection Association board of directors, has served as an Area President, Deputy Area President and Vice President of Council Relations. He has served as the Golden Gate Area Council president and as a member of its board. He also was president and a board member of the Mount Diablo Silverado Council, a legacy council of GGAC. He has been a district chair, merit badge counselor, and assistant Scoutmaster. For his volunteerism, he has earned the Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope, Alumnus of the Year and Distinguished Eagle Scout awards.

“I can draw a straight line from joining Troop 574 to the fire service to where I am today,” he says. “That line says, ‘To help other people at all times.’ Scouting has provided me the vision to have a life of service, and for that I am eternally grateful.” He and his wife, Bonnie, have two children, Kathleen and Kyle, and two grandchildren. He says his Silver Buffalo Award really belongs to them for the sacrifices they’ve made so he could participate in Scouting, and to all the adult leaders who gave him opportunities over the years to serve Scouting.

Michael R . Rooney*

Tempe, Arizona

Mike Rooney says his experience as a youth in Scouting was instrumental in his growth — both the good times and the bad. “Scouting taught me self-reliance and gave me confidence,” Rooney says. “I actually look back fondly on those campouts when it rained and I slept in my wet sleeping bag. And then, there was that close encounter with a timber rattlesnake at Camp Beaumont. Scouting played a major role in molding me into the person I am today. Although I could have done without the timber rattlesnake.”

Rooney currently serves as the commissioner of the National Cub Scout Committee and as the Cub Scouting Chair on the National Commissioner Service Team. In addition to serving as Cubmaster, he also served as an assistant Scoutmaster for two troops. He attended the National Jamboree in 1989 as an assistant Scoutmaster. He has received the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope awards. He is a past president of the Grand Canyon Council and currently serves on its committee and executive board.

Rooney is a lawyer at Sacks Tierney law firm, where he has worked for nearly 50 years. He and his wife, Ruth, have three children — Mark, Katherine, and Christopher — and three grandchildren. Rooney is an active member of Dayspring United Methodist Church, where he formerly served as board chair. The achievement he’s most proud of in Scouting came during his nearly decade-long run as Cubmaster in the 1980s, when he was named his district’s Cubmaster of the year. He credits former Scout Executive Sonny Hays for guiding his Scouting service, and former chair of the National Cub Scout Committee (and fellow Silver Buffalo recipient) Lisa Wylie for giving him the opportunity to serve on the National Cub Scout Committee.

Sven J. Rundman III*

Fredericksburg, Virginia

To Sven Rundman, there’s nothing more important than educating youth and adults in having safe and enjoyable Scouting experiences. That’s why he has served on the National Safe Scouting Committee and as chair of the National Program Safety Committee. He also served as lead of the National Jamboree Safety Service teams in every Jamboree from 2005 to the most recent in 2023, plus the World Scout Jamboree in 2019, as well as the safety lead for multiple National Order of the Arrow conferences.

Rundman’s knowledge and skills come from nearly 50 years of volunteering in Scouting and more than 40 years as a health and safety professional. Most of that time was spent working for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor, where he worked as a supervisory industrial hygienist. Rundman has served multiple times at the National Camp School, as the National Capital Area Council’s risk management/health and safety chair, and as the Northeast Georgia Council’s risk management chair.

He has also been a Cubmaster, assistant Scoutmaster, Scoutmaster, and district chair. Rundman says he’s especially thrilled to be part of Scouting as it further opens its doors to young women.

“The broadening of the Scouting program to allow young girls to participate in the Cub Scout and Scouts BSA programs enhances their opportunities to become leaders, too, just as young men have been able to do for 114 years,” says Rundman. “From my two daughters in their youth days who gained their own personal growth through the Venturing program, to my son who also earned Eagle Scout, to now seeing my first granddaughter learn and succeed in the Cub Scout program — wow. The future of Scouting and America is in very good hands.” He and his wife, Kathy, have three children — Viktoria, Kari, and Sven IV — and five grandchildren.

Arnold F. Traupman, M.D.*

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

In his 40 years of service to Scouting, Traupman has done a little bit of everything. Traupman served on the National Camp Accreditation Program Committee, National Alumni Committee and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting. He has served on the National Jamboree staff five times and on the World Jamboree Executive Staff in 2019. He’s a former area president and vice president, as well as a council commissioner and council president. He served as a Cubmaster and den leader for his local pack.

“I have much gratitude for the hundreds of volunteer Scouter acquaintances I made over the years, many of whom developed into true friendship,” he says. “I have found Scouters to be truly friendly, courteous, kind and cheerful. I am most appreciative to have had the opportunity to work alongside all of them.”

Traupman is a recipient of the Silver Beaver, Marvin Lewis Elks and Scouting Award, and Silver Antelope Award. He is a retired ophthalmologist and once performed successful cataract surgeries on a former Scoutmaster. He and his wife, Barbara, have four children — Jonathan, Matthew, Gabriel, and Emily — and four grandchildren. When he’s not volunteering for Scouting, you can find him at Saints Simon and Jude Church or with the Knights of Malta, a Catholic lay religious order.

“I have a very large sense of gratitude to my very patient wife, whose tolerance allowed me to do the many wonderful and fulfilling things that I did in the past 40 years of Scouting,” he says.

Michael F. Weber*

Grand Blanc, Michigan

Mike Weber has made it his goal to help young people prepare themselves for life while teaching them to give back and contribute to society. Over his nearly 40 years of service to Scouting, it’s safe to say he has done just that. Weber has served on multiple Jamboree staffs, as Technology Chair of the National Commissioner Service Team and as regional commissioner, area commissioner and dean of the College of Commissioner Science. He has been a council president, commissioner, and board member, along with serving as Wood Badge course director and merit badge council.

He has been a chartered organization representative, Explorer post Advisor, Cubmaster and Scoutmaster. His recognitions include the Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope, and National Outstanding Scoutmaster Award.

“Scouting provides me a set of values to live by, teach to my children, and share with others,” Weber says. “I’ve had adventures that challenged me, taking me to places I never expected, teaching me lessons in life, and experiences I will remember and benefit from always. And I’ve developed lifelong friendships. Each of my Scouting experiences have had an impact on molding me into who I am, helping me to leave this world a little better than I found it, as Baden-Powell would want us to do.”

Weber serves as a STEM instructor for fifth graders and as a mentor to high school juniors, encouraging them to complete community service projects while teaching etiquette and life skills. He also volunteers as treasurer of a local stock club and retiree club. Weber and his wife, Amy, have three Eagle Scout sons — Bradley, Kyle, and Kenny — and six grandchildren.