Colorado is well on its way to having its own prickly pal, thanks to the advocacy of 6th-grade Girl Scout Troop 2518 from Castle Rock. The girls are working with State Rep. Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, to work a bill through the legislature designating the claret cup cactus as our state’s cactus. In the process, the girls will also earn their Silver Award, the highest award for Girl Scout Cadettes. On January 27, HB 1024 passed the House Committee 11-0 to proceed to the House Floor.
The four girls conducted thorough online research and consulted with botanists at the Denver Botanic Gardens to select the claret cup in favor over the prickly pear, which is considered a weed by most.
“We learned that the claret cup is one of the most common cacti in Colorado, and it grows in low and high elevations,” said Paige Ferguson, 12. “It’s also really pretty with bright red flowers, and hummingbirds like them too.”
The claret cup is a small barrel-shaped cactus that grows in clusters with a red waxy flower. The cactus is found throughout Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Arizona and Texas are the only other states that have designated official cacti.
The troop first contacted Murray in late 2012 to see if she’d be interested in sponsoring a bill to designate a state cactus. She readily agreed to help, and has also given the girls a behind-the-scenes tour of the Capitol and a hand-on experience with how the legislative process works.
Megan Phibbs, 11, and Aspen Medberry, 11, did a remarkable job of testifying before the House Committee, with backup from troopmates Paige Ferguson, 12, and Jocelyn Tweddle, 11. They detailed their research and why the plant deserves this designation. To sweeten the bill, they also made cupcakes adorned with edible cacti for the committee members. Representatives from the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society also testified in support of the legislation.
Murray says she hopes the bill ends up on Gov. Hickenlooper’s desk with no controversy.
“It’s exciting to be a part of making history with a state symbol to earn our Silver Award,” said Megan.
The Silver Award is a leadership award culminating with a project led by a Cadette troop who build a purpose-based team to work with the larger community to meet a need. The focus of a Girl Scout Silver Award project is identifying and researching a community issue they are passionate about, developing a plan to address it in cooperation with community members, establishing a global connection with others and providing sustainability for the project.
Also love the spirit of Rep. Murray as the bill went for a final vote earlier in February: