“Young Naturalist” breast badge was instituted by the Resolution of the Central Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League dated April 10, 1954 in order to stimulate high-level interest of schoolchildren in participation in natural history hobby groups activities and foster basic science learning. It was on August 01 the same year that All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSKhV), Moscow-based exhibition and amusement site, housed “Young Naturalists” pavilion, and All-Union Meeting of Young Naturalists in honour of the centennial of the birth of Ivan Michurin, an eminent Russian plant breeder and founder of scientific base for selection of fruit crops, was held in the capital of the USSR on August 12, 1955.
According to the Annex to the aforementioned Resolution, Young Pioneers pretending to the badge should have got on well in studying, performed natural history studies and fulfilled one of the following conditions:
1. Participated actively in the work of young naturalist hobby group at school or extra-school institution.
2. Kept a meteorological diary of seasonal variations; familiarized himself/herself with elementary meteorological instruments and learned how to use them.
3. Constructed single-handed or with help of his comrades visual aids for a biology study room: herbarium or entomology collection, models, etc.
4. Became skilled in livestock or poultry rearing.
5. Performed work concerning conservation and protection of beneficial birds.
6. Participated in tree planting and cultivation of gardens, making of greenhouses; learned how to do engrafting and pruning; became proficient in pest-control measures in gardens and berry plantations.
7. Performed development works at school training strip, collective farm or homestead land.
Nominations for decoration with the badge were made by a council of the Young Pioneer group (“druzhina”), and procedure of decoration was performed by a senior organizer (“starshij pionervozhatyj”) or a Young Pioneer group chairman (“predsedatel’ soveta druzhiny”).
The badge was worn on the right side of the breast.
Resolution of the Central Committee of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League dated June 30, 1955 authorized extra-school institutions as well as urban and suburban Young Pioneer camps to award “Young Naturalist” badges. According to that document, since then badges were presented by directors or administrators of Young Pioneer Palaces, Young Pioneer Houses and Young Naturalists regional stations upon nomination by a head of the hobby group (in extra-school institutions), and by senior organizers or a Young Pioneer group chairman of the Young Pioneer camp upon nomination by a council of the Young Pioneer group (in both types of Young Pioneer camps).
One-piece badge had a shape of the slightly convex vertical oval. Central composition consisted of a Young Pioneer schoolboy looking through a microscope and a Young Pioneer schoolgirl standing behind him. A little bird sat to the right of the microscope. Composition was framed with a vegetative ornament joining at the top: fruit tree branches with apples and pears (on the left) and three ears of wheat (on the right). Lower part of the badge showed semi-circular green enameled ribbon bearing inscription “Young Naturalist” (“Юный натуралист”) in gilt capital letters; two ribbon fragments were superimposed on the lower third of branches and ears of wheat, thus tying them. Gilt abbreviation “USSR” (“CCCP”) flanked with two branches of three leaves each, was situated just below the semi-circular ribbon, against red background.
Badges could be divided into early (heavyweight) and late (lightweight) pattern badges.
Main distinctive features of late pattern badges were crude simplified design, appliance of paint instead of enamel, light weight and different colour scheme. Thus, central background became light blue (instead of gilt), ribbons tying up branches and ears of wheat became red (instead of green), and the lower ribbon bearing “Young Naturalist” inscription became white (instead of green).
Badges of both patterns measured 30x26 mm.
1) “Textbook” badges manufactured by the Moscow Mint (Московский монетный двор) of gilt Tombac with red and green hot enamel. Those badges had flat and plain reverse bearing manufacturer’s mark below the pin: three capital letters “MMD” (“ММД”). Horizontal safety pin was soldered to the reverse by a small circular plate. Badge weighed 7,03 g.
2) Badges manufactured by the “Pobeda” (“Победа”) factory of the Moscow City Executive Committee (“Mosgorispolkom”), presumably before 1961. Concave reverse had manufacturer’s mark: encircled capital letter “P” (“П”). Attachment method of horizontal pin was similar to the one described above.
3) Badges made of brass with red and green enamel, with strong counter-relief, or so-called mirror reverse and without manufacturer’s mark. Attachment method of horizontal pin was similar to the one described above.
4) Badges with flat reverse without manufacturer’s mark. Pin was attached to the reverse by a horizontal rectangular plate.
Late pattern pieces were manufactured by the Shcherbinsky Factory of Metal Small Wares (Щербинский завод металлической галантереи) of aluminum and were covered with green, light blue and red paint, instead of enamel. Slightly concave reverse was either plain or had slightly pebbled surface. Author is aware of three types of those badges: with one manufacturer’s mark above pin (capital letters “ShchZ” (“ЩЗ”) in italics inside horizontal oval); with manufacturer’s mark below pin; with two manufacturer’s marks above and below pin, while only the latter had letters in italics.