Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gold Award Spotlight: Improving the Environment One Tree at a Time

Girl Scout Savannah from Virginia Beach recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement in Girl Scouting. For her project, Savannah worked to replace trees that had been lost during storms and due to disease over the years at Pipsico Scout Reservation in Spring Grove, Va. Savannah’s brother attends the camp, and when she visited, she noticed that the loss of trees was causing erosion and that campers had less shade. With the help of a team of volunteers that she organized, Savannah planted 300 trees, including redbuds, northern red oaks and Virginia pines, throughout the camp.

Savannah and Jenny Sommerfeld, camp ranger
at Pipsico Scout Reservation
Savannah purchased the trees from the Virginia Department of Forestry with money she raised from holding yard sales and from other donations. She worked closely with the camp ranger, Jenny Sommerfeld, and the camp director, Evan Sommerfeld, to select the types of trees she would plant, choose the best time to plant the trees and develop a plan for choosing placement, planting and fertilizing each tree. After all of the trees were planted, she marked each one with a ribbon for visibility.

“I chose this project because I love being outdoors,” Savannah said. “Planting trees was a fun experience and as they trees grow they will provide habitats for animals and shade for campers.”

Since planting the trees, both Savannah and Jenny check on them on a regular basis to make sure they are thriving. Savannah also created a book about the Hornaday Awards, which are recognitions that Boy Scouts can earn for significant contributions to conservation.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in their community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Savannah to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.