Gold Award Girl Scout: Ellie McWhirter, Denver, “The Give-a-Bag-Take-a-Bag Project”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

For my project, I decreased the amount of plastic bag usage in my community and increased the amount of knowledge on the issue of plastic bag pollution in my community. My initial project plan was to place systems in grocery stores where if a costumer forgot their reusable bag they could get one from the system and use that for their groceries instead of a plastic bag. I had talked to stores and we were already to start the system, but then, COVID. Because of COVID and the fact that my project was super hands-on, I had to switch gears completely. My project became all informational and I beefed up my website with information on the issue and how to help. I also printed off flyers and pamphlets and distributed them in my community through grocery stores, coffee shops, etc.

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

I measured the impact of my project through my website and the Park Hill Food Bank. On my website, I was able to tell how many people visited each page, and how many people signed the petition banning plastic bags that was on my page. Through the food bank, I was able to tell how many people donated reusable bags.

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

My project is sustained beyond my involvement through the help of East High School’s Sustainability Club. I have connected the president of the club with the convention center (for bag donations) and the Park Hill food bank. I also gave her copies of all my flyers.

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

Plastic pollution is a global problem and a problem in my community. By addressing the issue in my community, I had the potential to have my project go global. I contacted Feeding America, Food Bank of the Rockies, and had a global connection to the petition on change.org.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned about my persistence and grit. The project took a lot of time and effort, and the fact that I had some ups and downs with it and was still able to complete it showed my grit.

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

I think earning the Gold Award taught me leadership, communication, accountability, and reasonability skills. These skills are important in life and will help me tremendously in the future.

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

I feel that the Gold Award was extremely important because it was a nice send off into the real world. I had been in Girl Scouts since first or second grade and so just being able to grow in character throughout my life and then have a big finale sendoff was very rewarding. The Gold Award also taught me very valuable life lessons and skills that I can and will continue to use, so I would say that was a very important part of my Girl Scout experience.

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

I think earning my Gold Award helped me become a go-getter because it made me realize that if I put my mind to something and put in the effort, I can do anything I want. It helped me become an innovator because I had to adapt to certain situations and adjust my project to fit the requirements under a circumstance. The Gold Award helped me become a risk-taker because throughout the project, I had to step out of my comfort zone in some instances. For example, contacting big organizations and communicating with adults in the workplace. This got me out of my comfort zone and was somewhat of a risk. It helped me become a leader through leading a team of volunteers and a team in general.

**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.