Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Gold Award Spotlight: Striped Bass Sustainability

Caneel, a Virginia Beach Girl Scout, has earned the Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

When Caneel learned that the striped bass population in the Chesapeake Bay has been decreasing since 2003, she decided to help protect this species of fish for her Gold Award project. She started by learning more about the issue from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local fisherman. She then took action to help find solutions, educate the public about why it is important to save the striped bass and gather support from the community to help bring back the striped bass population.

Caneel made a flier about the issue of the decreasing striped bass population and distributed it to members of the community, restaurants, tackle shops and marinas. In order to reach broader audience, she made a Facebook page and website about the issue. She placed an ad in the newspaper to raise awareness and promote her website. Caneel also met with a team from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife National Conservation Training Center to share her flier with people who come from all over the country for training and designed a bumper sticker that she handed out to community members.

“I have always loved fishing and life on the Chesapeake Bay,” Caneel said. “Because of that, I was involved in the fishing community and saw firsthand that the striped bass population has declined. I realized that not only does this iconic fish play an important part in the ecosystem, it also helps brings a lot of tourist dollars to our economy. But, most people don’t know what’s happening. I decided that I could help by sharing information and raising awareness.”

Caneel also developed a workshop for children that she shared with second and third graders to encourage them to get involved in saving the striped bass by helping to clean the bay.

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