GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Madeline Walden, Larkspur, “Growing Up”

Madeline Walden pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I built a vertical garden for the Douglas County Outdoor Education Facility.


Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

I was concerned that students, particularly those from urban/suburban areas, were never exposed to gardening with a purpose, and therefore believed that plants were only to “look pretty” and could only exist in traditional gardens. But in a world that is increasingly unable to grow enough food to support the growing population, it’s important to know that food can come from any number of unique settings. I addressed this issue by creating a setting in which food can be grown unconventionally.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

My project filled the need for an engaging and thought-provoking agricultural lesson for elementary aged children in my school district. I hoped to impact the new outdoor education center in my school district, and consequently the hundreds of students who stay there every year, by building a vertical garden that could show the children that gardening is possible even in the most unusual locations. Now, the students will benefit from a lesson in constructive and destructive processes that ends in the realization that even when nature cannot provide the water, soil, sun, etc. that is necessary to successful agriculture, people can use creative problem solving to plant a garden.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

The most valuable skill I developed during this project was self-assertion. Before I started my Gold Award, I was hesitant to ask adults for favors, but as my work progressed, I realized that I needed A LOT of help, and the only way to get it was to ask for it. After dealing with several week long delays, I learned to send follow up emails and be persistant in my questions, and not to just give up and struggle (and ultimately fail) to solve my problems. This project has really helped me learn to interact with adults in a respectful and effective manner.

How did you make your project sustainable?

The garden itself was designed to keep itself alive for years to come; the majority of the plants are perennials or will reseed themselves, the irrigation is fully automated, and the pockets are made from industrial strength (and 100% recycled) materials that will remain sturdy for years to come. More importantly, the lesson plan that was written to accompany the garden can be used to teach 5th and 6th graders for as long as the center wants to use the curriculum.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

My project was originally inspired by the global food crisis, and the vertical garden is an important living lesson, teaching the youth in my community that creative problem solving and ingenuity are important tools in solving this and other world issues.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

The paperwork. 😉 And the little bursts of pride that followed overcoming the many obstacles I encountered.

How will earning your Gold Award help you in your future?

I hope that earning my Gold Award will prove to others and myself that I am empowered and self motivated, and enthused to take on ambitious projects.

Why do you feel the Gold Award is an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

After twelve years of camping, canoeing, first aid training, and frolicking in the woods with my fellow Girl Scouts, completing my Gold Award was a valuable assessment of what I had learned over the years.

***IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email

2 thoughts on “GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Madeline Walden, Larkspur, “Growing Up””

  1. I want to get the word out about GOLD Projects and Something called Waymarking. My daughter & I – Scouts in Orange County, CA are Geocachers & Waymarkers – (Geocaching=Hi-tech Hide& Seek & Waymarking- a sister activity is Interesting Locations around the Globe) – There is a new (about 2 1/2 yrs old now) Category at – “Girl Scout Gold Award Project Sites” – WE (my daughter and myself – aka tissa1020 & Foxhound) created the category as there WAS already the Eagle Award Sites – WE thought GS should have a category as well.
    Thing is – NOT all GS projects can be “marked” – they MUST be physical in nature. If you know other girls who complete “tangible projects”, please consider adding them to the waymarking community! – please pass along to anyone you know who might be interested in waymarking and showcasing some Girl Scout Gold! And to the Girls who do Gold Projects that are Physical/Tangible – This is a fun way to be recognized – Waymarking is WORLDWIDE!!!!

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