What did you do for your Gold Award Project?
Shire horses have been on the endangered species list for a very long time because they were used in wars to pull ammunition carts. During WWII, they were killed by the thousands by the airstrikes across Europe. Michelle Conner, my sponsor for this project and owner of Thunder Cliff Shires, started her organization by rescuing young Shires from slaughter. Now, she breeds them as well as incorporates a variety of horses for therapy, teaching people about her animals and the importance of them. Michelle is working very hard to bring the Shire breed back to life, as well as educate and help people with disabilities or those with anxiety/depression, including wounded warriors suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Thunder Cliff Shires is nonprofit and therefore, needs help anywhere they can find it. I decided to help them by building an obstacle course to help train their horses more effectively. My obstacle course consisted of three obstacles: a “tire bridge,” which was for the horses’ carriage rides; cowboy curtain, which is a large wooden frame with pool noodles hanging down to get the horses used to touch; and a tire pyramid to get them used to uneven ground. The obstacle course helps the horses with unfamiliar circumstances, getting them used to different touches and unstable environments, so that it they are calmer when dealing with children.
How did you measure the impact of your Gold Award made on your target audience?
I wanted my audience to learn self-improvement and the ability to get to know both themselves and the animals better. I want them to learn that anything is possible and that there is always somebody there to help them. Nobody likes to feel helpless and animal therapy is a very good method of improving moods. I would also like my target audience to know how the animals help them as well as what Thunder Cliff Shires does for animals and individuals with disabilities. I ensured that they would learn about my project and its effect, as well as how it could help them or those around them. Michelle has promised to tell visitors to the ranch about my project, and I created a pamphlet that I am going to show and hang up. I have also kept in touch with Thunder Cliff Shires to ensure that the team educates people on the project and how it helps them and the horses.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
Thunder Cliff Shires has expressed how much they needed the obstacles and said they would most definitely use them for years. Sharing the project will also bring others to possibly come to her organization and check it out. Sharing may also give others the idea to do similar things, therefore ensuring that there’s motivation to continue use by seeing how much an obstacle course could help. The horses are also going to breed, causing them to need to be trained to help people- and so the cycle continues. The obstacles are also well built and are ensure to stand throughout the years because of their strength. Thunder Cliff Shires has tours for Wounded Warriors, elder homes, etc. and the obstacles and sign will be there to educate visitors about my project. I will also continue to help them should they need any support from me. I’ve made myself available to help with tours and have created a group of volunteers that have offered support in the future as well.
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
Hopefully, by sharing my project and plans, other organizations all around the world will see and use my ideas to benefit their own animals or people. Using these obstacles to help animals get trained will help them get trained faster- and trust is extremely important if these animals are to deal with people that may need that help. It may also help to educate people about horses and about the endangered Shire horse, possibly influencing them to look into helping the animals. It may also educate people on the method of therapy through horses and how helpful it could be to help or calm down an individual. Advertising what I’ve done with my project will also influence others to volunteer and support other organizations. Prior to helping with my project, none of the people that volunteered were aware of the endangered species, the therapy, or the organization. Teaching them will spread and they will tell others, and the education will continue. I have asked Thunder Cliff Shires to post my plans so that others can have easier access to them. Organizations all around will be inspired by my plans, and Thunder Cliff Shires is connected to a network of other people and places like them so they can spread my project.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that if I motivate myself and buckle down to get to work, then I can do anything I set my mind to. I also learned that no matter how hard something may seem at first, it isn’t that much work in the end and there are several ways to see the work as something smaller. Instead of dreading and saying “I have to do this, this, and this,” I instead would tell myself “you only have to do three more things to complete the project” and I think that helped me a lot. I also worked on decreasing my procrastination, which not only helped with this project, but will help with school as well.
How will earning your Gold Award impact your future?
The Gold Award will impact my future in many ways. The award provides more opportunities for future education. I want to go into a STEM field and the Gold Award will look very good on my college application, as it will show that I can collaborate with others to complete a project. It has also motivated me and made me realize I can do anything I put my mind to. It taught me that not everything is scary, and that I can be more laid back about things. This will probably stick with me for the rest of my life.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
I feel like the Gold Award was an important part of my Girl Scout experience because it felt like all the years, I’ve put into Girl Scouts led up to it. All of the smaller projects were preparing me and everything now seems like it was extremely important to do instead of just work to get me out and talking to people into the community. I also feel like I have done what a Girl Scout should do, which is give back to her community. I also feel very accomplished with my Girl Scout career.
How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L?
I feel like getting my Gold Award made me more comfortable with taking risks. I’ve always been a very anti-hazard person, and anything even slightly outside of my comfort zone, I refused to do. This project helped me to realize that the worst thing anyone can say is no, and that to go out and do things is the only way I will learn and improve as a person. Going outside of my comfort zone is something I’ve noticed I do more, even in the short period of time it’s been since I have finished my project. I believe that this will be very important for the rest of my life.
**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 firstname.lastname@example.org.