The Williston Rotary Club met on Jan 18, inviting guest speaker Rob Gilkerson of the Boy Scouts of America to share all the Scouts’ latest happenings.

Gilkerson serves as field service director for the Northern Lights Council BSA, and is a Rotarian out of Bismarck. The Northern Lights Council covers all of North Dakota, two counties in Montana, two counties in South Dakota and 19 counties in Minnesota. As Director of Field Service, Gilkerson supervises program functions and direct support to all Northern Lights Council units.

The BSA just kicked off their annual fundraising drive, “Friends of Scouting,” where local businesses, organizations and individuals are asked to help support their local troops. In the Williston area, Gilkerson said there are three Cub Scouts packs and two troops. In addition, the Scouts are looking for donations to give back to the community as well, as they prepare for their “Scouting for Food” drive, which begins in March. In Williston, the drive takes on a fun twist with “Fill a Canoe,” where a canoe is set up outside a local business and patrons can fill it with food for local food pantries.

“That’s been a huge success for us,” Gilkerson said. “We fill that canoe somewhere between seven and 15 times, depending on the year. It’s really, really fun.”

Gilkerson shared that the BSA would be working this legislative session to support House Bill 1356, which would allow for “Patriotic Societies” such as Boys Scouts, Girls Scouts and Future Farmers of America to have access to public schools to inform students about the opportunities to participate. Gilkerson added that the bill parallels a bill that was adopted in South Dakota in 2018, which has shown much success for the BSA. Gilkerson said the bill was introduced Jan 15.

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