Gold Award Girl Scout: Hanna Ellis, Wray, “Dog Waste Stations”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I advocated for pet waste dispensers and the dangerous effects of too much pet waste and overall impact on community health. I originally planned to solve the problem by building a dog park that would be integrated into the city parks department, but would remain under city control. After numerous different design attempts, the park became too far out of reach. So, I opted for another route to combat the issue, I chose to design a system of waste stations and bench stops that would be of easy access to community members. This project still accomplished the same goal in solved the project issue and was received well by community members and city council.

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

My project directly addressed the issue of pet waste as a destruction to city property and possible threat to community health that includes pet owners, athletes, and Wray citizens. The issue had become an overwhelming task for the city to keep ahead of as the number of pet owners was on the rise and therefore, the number of pets using city facilities also increasing. Through my Gold Award project, I was able to have a lasting and sustainable impact on the City of Wray, its council members, and its citizens. The impact mostly addressed increasing pet owner education about being a responsible owner and being accountable for one’s own pet waste by installing waste stations that make cleaning up waste easier and more readily available use for owners. Therefore, the impact was received well by pet owners as the amount of pet waste noticed on city fields, parks, and paths was reduced.

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

Before even receiving Girl Scout Gold Award Committee initial approval to begin my project, I had numerous meetings with City of Wray manager James DePue to integrate my project into the city’s park department. I attended numerous city council meetings to ensure my project would be sustained by the City of Wray that would included maintenance described in my original proposal. This maintenance includes: trash removal, weed eating around benches and garbage cans, and replacing station headers when bags run out. I have obtained a signed letter from my project adviser and City of Wray Manager James DePue outlining the work I have put forth to complete my project and the city’s role since the completion of my project.

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

The root cause of my project addresses pet waste and owner education, which is a rising national issue as 83 million pet dogs produce nearly 10.6 million tons of waste each year. Besides the fact that millions of tons of waste are produced, the waste left behind is a serious health threat that can harbor lots of bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These items can include harmful substances such as e coli, giardia, and salmonella. While my Gold Award project is focused on the City of Wray and other citizens of Northeastern Colorado, the project directly links to the national problem involving pet waste and citizen health.

What did you learn about yourself?

During the course of completing my Gold Award project, I learned about many leadership skills I didn’t know that I had developed. For example, I was the first girl in our troop to begin working on my Gold Award late in 2017. At that time, another girl was interested in completing a Gold Award, but wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do. I was able to help her create a project after identifying what issue she wanted to address and we both worked on our initial proposals to present on the same night for the award committee.

Also, I was able to speak at many city council meetings that would ultimately be the greatest achievement I can say I have received by completing a Gold Award. Before I found a topic that I was genuinely interested in and excited about, I would have never spoken in front of a council of six or more members who are respected individuals in the community of Wray. After my first council meeting and initial proposal, each time I went to another council meeting I was more relaxed and for me it became so much easier to present my ideas to those council members. I also learned to direct a small team that would help my figure out what equipment to order, the best way to place the stations, and final equipment installation plans.

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

Earning my Gold Award has pushed me beyond my limits in so many ways that will positively give me the knowledge and experience of how to deal with conflict and challenges and keep going in the future. This award has also given me the opportunity to become a leader in many more ways than I could have ever imagined.

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

Since I have been involved in Girl Scouts since the age of about 8 or 9, earning this award has been one of my highest goals since that young age. Even since the age of about 12, I knew exactly what I wanted my Gold Award project to be and that goal itself motivated me for nearly if not all of my Girl Scout experience. Earning this award has just been the perfect way to cap all of those great experiences I learned while meeting many new people, growing as an individual, and changing the world.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

Since my project encountered so many issues with construction, I needed to be an innovator to find away around the issues while still accomplishing my own goal. Not only did I need to completely redesign my project, I also needed to change how that same goal could be incorporated into a new project. In this way, I was challenged to create new ideas to address the same issue that were still unique and had a connection to Girl Scouts.

**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