TWO local Scout leaders have been presented with major awards to acknowledge long and distinguished service to the youth organisation.
1st Kerang Scout leader, Mark Wilson and 1st/2nd Cohuna's Stuart Richardson received their accolades during the Northern Rivers District annual presentation event, held at Kerang.
Both leaders received honours during the annual announcement of leadership excellence on August 1 - which coincides with World Scout Day.
District Commissioner, Carmel Tyers, OAM and Loddon Mallee Region Commissioner, Craig Whan presented Mr Wilson with the Silver Emu - the second-highest award presented to leaders - for his 40 years of service to the youth organisation.
Mr Richardson received a Special Service Award for his 10-year commitment to Cohuna's group.
Other leaders recognised on the night were 1st Lake Boort's Garry Schmidt, who received a 25-year certificate, and 1st Donald's Damon Coates, who received the Meritorious Service Award.
Ms Tyers praised the work that all leaders undertake in delivering quality programs for those who are as part of the organisation, with all groups given the challenge to increase their membership in 2018.
"We will need more leaders, and this should be one of our major priorities in the coming year," she said.
During his presentation, Mr Whan said Scouting has an important role in developing children, and challenged parents who are thinking of becoming leaders, saying that it is wrong to think it takes a long time to become a good leader.
"Kids need outdoor activities and we provide that," he said.
"We offer them life-skills and structure and above all, the meaning of teamwork.
"We do need more leaders, but we do have good leaders, who make time for the kids."
Participation numbers in the Northern Rivers District - which includes Barham, Cohuna, Donald, Kerang, Lake Boga, Lake Boort, Nyah/Nyah West and Swan Hill - increased by 12 per cent in 2016/17 - significantly higher than the State average of one per cent.