What did you do for your Gold Award project?
My project is focused on State Park Waste Diversion. However, a huge part of my project is focused on educating the public on the basics of recycling and waste diversion in hopes to inspire and empower future generations to make a difference and share their knowledge with the world! My project branched into a variety of pieces such as a staff orientation to educate staff at Colorado state parks on the basics of waste diversion so that they can help share their knowledge. I worked to create a Junior Ranger curriculum that includes reduce, reuse, recycle guidelines. I did my own in-person waste sorts with the public in order to bring awareness and get helpful data as an insight into the issue of recycling contamination. To help further knowledge of recycling, I developed and posted signage that is both sustainable and durable that will help educate people and empower them to make the right choice! Every piece of my project aims at sustainability of our amazing state parks for future generations of girls to enjoy.
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
My initial plan was to measure my project’s success at Steamboat Lake by doing a beginning and end waste sort, however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I instead found success in my project based on the number of people I was able to reach and on all levels, from staff, visitors, the public, and Girl Scouts of all ages. I was able to see this based on the number of views on my YouTube Channel, blog, and Facebook. In addition, simply posting the signage made a huge difference in the amount of contamination in the trash and recycling as observed by park employee Eric Young. When I was at Steamboat Lake posting the signage, I had multiple staff members come up to me and say how thankful they were for my presentation at their staff orientation and how much they learned. I was visibly able to see the impact education truly has on people of all backgrounds and ages. People gained new knowledge on the basics of waste diversion, the what, why, and how of recycling, as well as what individuals can do in the community to help reduce their own waste. I taught many young girls how to do their very own waste sort at home and how to set up their own successful recycling systems. My impact was measured throughout my project in less quantifiable means then I had intended, but the overall impact was based on the overall increase in knowledge and education around where our waste is truly going. I started the conversion, and I will continue to help be a part of it.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
In order to ensure the sustainability and longevity of my project beyond my involvement, I created and developed a letter of commitment that was signed by Kelly Cook, my project advisor and the administrative assistant of Steamboat Lake State Park, that ensures commitment by the state park to maintain the vision and goals of my project through a series of detailed and specific commitments. The letter of commitment lays out each part of my project and the resources available in order for the state park to continue my work. For each step of my project, I worked to make it sustainable for future use. For example, I uploaded videos of my staff orientation presentation to YouTube to be available for future use. I created a waste sort kit to be available to each seasonal interpreter for further use in park programs. I created signage that will last for at least two years and can be easily repurchased for continued educational awareness. I provided a PDF of resources from Yampa Valley Sustainability Council as well as the Junior Ranger program to be reprinted, reused, and recycled to continue the use of these resources for both the public, visitors, and young kids. By signing this letter of commitment, Steamboat Lake Park has committed to maintaining my project vision, goals, and mission beyond my involvement in order to increase waste diversion and recycling to make the state parks more sustainable for future generations to enjoy.
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
I met and coordinated with Girl Scouts of Colorado staff member Anna Danilla in order to find ways to share and integrate my Gold Award Project with the Girl Scouts Love State Parks Weekend event. I ended up creating a blog post coupled with pictures that share the basics about my project and the relationship to state parks. In addition, I shared my Project Greenify YouTube Channel as online resources for the virtual piece of the Girl Scouts Love State Parks Weekend, September 12 and13, 2020. The blog information and YouTube link was posted on Girl Scouts of Colorado website, Facebook, and sent out in RSVP emails to reach potentially 1,000 girls and their family’s and share my project with Girl Scouts beyond Routt County.
What did you learn about yourself?
One of the biggest things I learned about myself throughout the whole project is that I truly do have the power to make a difference. Through perseverance, patience, passion, and hard work, I was able to make an impact on other people and the environment as a whole. I learned that I have the ability to lead and collaborate with others to create something achievable. I didn’t simply write down lofty goals, I achieved them. I learned that my passion for the environment and the human-environment interaction, is not something that will go away. It is a true passion that I want to continue to learn about, study, and share in my future and beyond. I learned what direction I want my life to take; I want to study environmental science and policy in college and beyond.
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
Earning my Gold Award has not only given me the confidence that I can change the world, but the tools to continue to make a difference. In my future, I will use my Gold Award experience as a segue into having a more lasting impact and continuing to share my passion for environmental science with the world. Being a Gold Award Girl Scout will help in every application and interview for college and beyond. It has given me the leadership skills that will apply to every situation life throws at me.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
The journey towards earning my Gold Award was a truly unique experience and was a perfect cumulative experience of everything I have learned and gained from Girl Scouts since I was in kindergarten. I used the basics of the Girl Scout Promise to “use resources wisely” and turned it into a sustainable and achievable project. I took initiative and worked to serve my community as I had been taught to do throughout my years as a Girl Scout. I feel that earning my Gold Award was an achievement I had always dreamed of. Ever since I saw the Gold Award Girl Scouts as my troop received our Silver Award, I knew I wanted to one day stand up there and present how I used Girl Scouts as a forum for making a difference.
How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
Throughout my Gold Award journey, I was able to strengthen and develop a multitude of leadership skills. I believe that one of the greatest skills I gained was in collaboration. I learned to practice balancing independence with reaching out to my team for help, support, feedback, and advice. Along with collaboration came innovation. In both dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and simply working towards sustainability for my project, I was able to demonstrate leadership in using my own confidence and delegation skills to continue my project moving forward. I continue to reach out to organizations and team members, and did not simply stand by idly during the strict period of quarantine. I became a real “go-getter,” as I used my drive and motivation along with a positive mindset to find creative solutions, by creating virtual material such as Project Greenify, finding ways to coordinate with Girl Scouts Love State Parks Weekend, and posting signage in a socially distant way. I developed skills in public speaking as I stepped up to a position of leadership and led waste-sort, staff orientation, public presentations, and Girl Scout events. I continually practiced accountability as I took responsibility for keeping up with my target dates, setting up my own meetings, and focusing on time management in order to accomplish each of my goals. I stepped up to become a coordinator, decision-maker, and active listener, as I became involved in other organizations such as state parks, and Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. The Gold Award experience has truly brought out my initiative and commitment to taking a stand and becoming an influential G.I.R.L.
**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 email@example.com.