Gold Award Girl Scout: Emma Popkin, Colorado Springs, “Alternative Gardening at Palmer High School”

What did you do for your Gold Award project? 

For my Gold Award project, I successfully obtained the necessary funding for and installed two hydroponic (meaning that they do not require soil) Grow Towers into the library at my school. These Grow Towers are currently growing a variety of herbs and vegetables that are being incorporated into a series of educational workshops meant to both educate students on the importance of locally sourced and healthy food options and allow the students to sample some of the actual produce grown. I also prepared a slideshow on how climate change impacts food supply and the need for locally sourced food that is being displayed next to the Grow Towers. Along the way, I established a central working committee of teachers, staff, administrators, and students to carry out my project and have involved representatives from two local community organizations doing similar work (the Pikes Peak Urban Gardens and the Colorado Springs Food Rescue).

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

Throughout the duration of my project (especially during and after the educational workshop that I hosted), I continually questioned my target audience to gauge what they knew before my project and what they had learned after seeing my project. Additionally, I was approached by many of my peers and teachers several times and informed that they have gained a greater understanding of the issue from my project.

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

My Gold Award project will be sustained by my project advisor, Mr. Chamberlin, and an environmental club at Palmer. Mr. Chamberlin will assist the members of the environmental club with the Grow Tower maintenance and will also continue to facilitate educational workshops with other groups of students at Palmer. The library staff will also help maintain the Grow Towers. Moving forward, the members of the environmental club will also explore additional ways to involve more students in other classes with the Grow Towers. Additionally, Mr. Chamberlin is spear-heading a new horticulture class that will be offered at Palmer.

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

To fulfill my global connection, I created an informational brochure about Grow Towers and my project and sent one to the New York branch of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), along with a short introduction of myself and a description of my project. WAGGGS is an international Girl Scouts organization that is assessable to Girl Scouts all over the world and highlights the projects of numerous outstanding Girl Scouts. My hope is that this organization will include my project on their website so that Girl Scouts all over the world can learn about my work and become inspired to complete a similar project of their own.

Additionally, my project inspired efforts to initiate a horticulture class at Palmer (my advisor is leading that effort). I also presented to a science class at Galileo Middle school about my project and inspired teachers there to work towards obtaining Grow Towers of their own.

What did you learn about yourself?

Along the way, I learned several things about myself:

  1. I possess a strong work ethic
  2. I possess the ability to excite others about my project
  3. I possess strong leadership skills (public speaking, coordinating meetings, contacting staff members and other community leaders, etc.)
  4. I am good at public speaking
  5. I possess resiliency, flexibility, and the ability to adapt to changing conditions during the various project stages

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

Upon completing my Gold Award project, I feel more educated about my issue (the impact of climate change on food production) and more inspired to pursue a career to help address this issue or a similar issue in the future. This project has helped me develop and utilize several important life skills such as public speaking, leadership skills, budget-making, and problem-solving. I feel confident that I will be able to tackle any challenge moving forward.

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

I believe that completing my Gold Award project was an excellent way to cap off my Girl Scout experience. I have been in Girl Scouts since second grade and have completed both the Bronze and Silver awards, a Journey, and many different badges. I believe that the Gold Award project was great way to put all of the skills that I have learned as a Girl Scout into action and complete a project that I really care about.

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

After completing my Gold Award project, I feel that I have become a better innovator and leader. Throughout this project, I encountered many different obstacles that required me to problem solve and innovate possible solutions. Additionally, I believe that I grew as a leader – this project required me to facilitate several meetings, phone calls, and presentations, work with my team to create several budgets and timelines, reach out to other community organizations doing similar work, and conduct a press conference with a local newspaper and news channel.

**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.