Girl Scout Gold Award Project: Debra Zerr, Arvada, “Connecting & Protecting”

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What did you do for your Gold Award project?

Connecting & Protecting addressed the problem of the lack of connection between the military and the general public. People who have never served in the military themselves have such a hard time understanding and talking to the men and women in the military. My project made it so much easier to communicate and start closing the gap of understanding between the general public and the military.

My project involved 6 parts, most of which benefitted the US Marine Corps Memorial in Golden, CO.  A 430 foot pathway was installed and an event took place for the public to meet the local service members in October 2015. I also set up a maintenance group and created a manual to take care of Memorial. Then I gathered information and pictures of the Memorial to create a pamphlet telling others about the history behind the US Marine Corps Memorial.  Finally, I created a website, connectingprotecting.com, and Facebook Page (Connecting & Protecting) for the general public to have access to information about the military branches easily and for service members’ stories to be offered to the public.

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

I had surveys at the Connecting & Protecting event at the Memorial for everyone who attended. Out of the 76 who attended, 95% walked away feeling more connected to the military and learned something new and fun.  There is also a survey on my website that visitors have taken. 10 total surveys have been taken so far and all came back with positive results. Finally, my website has a total of 13 positive comments as well.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?

The pathway that I created at the Memorial is self-sustaining, it will be there forever. It will not need to be dug up and reconstructed. AMCI Wireless and the Memorial Board will be replenishing the pathway material as needed. I also created and provided a manual to maintain the Memorial and presented it to employees at AMCI Wireless. AMCI Wireless made a commitment to maintain the Memorial for a minimum of one year.

Since I am not graduating until Spring 2017 I decided to continue to maintain the website and Facebook page until I am ready to step away. If the time comes when I will no longer maintain the project’s website and page, I will find someone to replace me, and they will use the Standard Operating Procedures that I developed during my project.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

There are three national and global links within my project:

  1. I sent 300 folded Pocket Flags from the Pocket Flag Project to men and women stationed on the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). With each flag there was a small card, with my website link and email address on it, so they can learn about my project.
  2. My project’s website is open to the world. I have over 20 viewers from other countries (Saudi Arabia, Canada, France, etc…) and 600+ viewers nationally. Many of my viewers share my website and Facebook page.
  3. Military men and women are stationed all over the world.

What did you learn about yourself?

When faced with obstacles, I learned to move around them. I would take a deep breath and stay positive. My family and two project advisers would listen to me and give me confidence to keep going. I would look for another way to do the activity or find the positives in the suggestion. I learned that creating and managing a website is a lot of work and time. It also improved my communication skills and my ability to write. Along with that, transcribing a recorded interview is very challenging, but the end result is well worth the time-consuming process. Lastly, interview questions need to be asked clearly and you have to really listen to the interviewee’s answers.

Staff Sergeant Carter, one of my project advisers, taught me that when you strive for success and face the toughest of challenges, you will be unstoppable. I understand what that means now and agree with him. Before this project, I did not think I was capable of accomplishing something this large and touching so many people’s hearts. I gained confidence and determination – the keys to get what you want.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

I want to go to college to study fashion design. In college, I will improve the team building, event planning, and website designing skills learned in my project. In the highly competitive fashion designing industry, you have to be strong, persistent, and independent. My project improved these skills and made me recognize them, so I can use them in the future.

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

It’s the last highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouts. I found it important in the last chapter of my journey to earn Gold because it’s like the last “hoorah” for me.  The end of a great story in my life.

**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 highestawards@gscolorado.org