Gold Award Girl Scout: Jessica Sweeney, Highlands Ranch, “Just Breathe and Plant Some Trees!”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

My Gold Award project “Just Breathe and Plant Some Trees!” addressed the issue of deforestation. I was able to gather 31 community members to plant 40 trees and shrubs, as well as two flats of sedges at CALF’s Lowell Ranch. I worked with the Douglas County Conservation District (DCCD), which was able to donate the trees and shrubs for my project using money they received from a grant to restore the riparian ecosystem we planted at. I chose to host a tree planting event because I wanted community members to get involved with something hands-on and take action on an important issue in our local, national, and global community.

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

In order to measure the impact of my project on my target audience, I had my tree planting volunteers take a survey before and after the event to see how much they learned. I gave a five minute speech at the event to educate my volunteers in hopes that they would learn something new, and that they could demonstrate this knowledge in the second survey. I also had a few questions in the second survey that asked if the event impacted them and if they would take any future actions to combat the issue of deforestation.

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

My project will be sustained beyond my involvement through the Douglas County Conservation District (DCCD), which I worked with for my Gold Award tree planting event, and the Douglas County School District (DCSD) Office of Sustainability. Both organizations are willing to promote my website and possibly my Instagram page as well. My project advisor Mrs. Berry, who was my high school teacher, Sustainability Club sponsor, and Sustainability Trainer for the DCSD Office of Sustainability, is also willing to sustain my project through my high school’s Sustainability Club. “Just Breathe and Plant Some Trees!” will continue to impact others because the DCSD Office of Sustainability will be able to share my project with multiple schools in the district. Furthermore, I strongly believe the DCCD and DCSD Office of Sustainability formed a connection through my Gold Award project, as the DCCD is interested in getting in contact with Mrs. Berry and my high school’s Sustainability Club and plan tree planting events in the future, specifically for spring 2020.

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

One crucial global and national link my project has is that planting trees benefits everyone on planet Earth. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere we all share, and it helps benefit local ecosystems which promotes a healthier environment as a whole. Planting trees also helps maintain the water cycle, reduce soil erosion, and protect species biodiversity. Another global and national connection my project has is through my website and Instagram page. Though they haven’t gotten out to a significant number of people yet, the organizations that are willing to sustain my project will be able to promote my website on their website.

What did you learn about yourself?

Something I learned about myself through this project is that I’m prone to procrastination and disorganization. It can be difficult to overcome these, but I’ve found that if I’m passionate enough about what I’m working on, it can help me push through any challenges to see success and accomplishment. I also learned that I’m pretty good at making lists to prioritize tasks and get the most important work done first.

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

Earning my Gold Award has impacted my future, because I’ve acquired great leadership skills through this project, and have learned the process of hosting a successful event. I strongly believe I will be more likely to take on projects similar to this in the future, and continue to volunteer and help contribute meaningfully to my community. I can also put my Gold Award project “Just Breathe and Plant Some Trees!” on my resume, and write the skills I developed through this project (such as leadership, communication, time management, commitment, organizational skills, etc.).

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

I have been in Girl Scouts all thirteen years, ever since I was a Daisy in kindergarten. I suppose you could say I’m rather committed to Girl Scouts, as I’ve earned many badges and patches, as well as both my Bronze and Silver Awards. I feel as though my Girl Scout journey would not be complete without the Gold Award, and that the life skills and experiences gained through this project will be something truly memorable and impactful for the future to come.

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

One of the leadership skills I developed through this project was delegating tasks to my team members. Quite a few of my team members were experts in their field, so they were able to provide me with information about trees and shrubs. I also learned how to assign tasks to people, such as my troop member Meg who created my website, to alleviate some of the work I needed to do. Another leadership skill I developed was being able to effectively communicate with others. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone to talk to new people and reach out to different organizations to tell them what my project was about and ask them if they could help me turn it into a reality.

Through this project, I was also able to become a go-getter. The Gold Award enabled me to set a goal, list the steps I needed to take to achieve that goal, and finally host a successful tree planting event! I had so much fun at my event, and was glad to see all my hard work paid off in the end. It’s easy to get caught up simply thinking about what goals you want to achieve, but the Gold Award really pushed me to be a go-getter and turn my dreams into a reality.

**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