Tag Archives: Youth Leadership in Conservation conference

Gold Award Girl Scout: Blakeley Bennett, Colorado Springs, “Collaboration for Coexistence”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I created a multi- faceted workshop targeted toward middle school and high school aged students. The workshop was designed to first educate students on some of the many human/ environment conflicts that are ongoing in the world and why, and secondly to engage students in small group discussions and empower them to problem solve to determine possible all- party solutions to these conflicts. The project was presented to both the local Cheyenne Mountain Zoo teen program (of which I have long been a part), and the second annual Youth Leadership in Conservation conference (hosted at CMZ), which is a national conference for teens interested in conservation and animals.

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

The impact on my audience was measured by post session surveys, change in mindsets/ attitudes of participants, and personal feedback forms completed after the workshop session. The post session surveys asked about things such as what participants had learned/ taken away from the workshop, if their thoughts or attitudes about any of these topics had changed, and what series of action steps they could individually take to help make a difference for conservation. Additionally, the personal feedback forms revolved around the actual content, organization, set up, and process of my workshop session. Furthermore, several participants informed me post conference that they had shared ideas from my presentation with their zoo education staff members across the country.

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

This project is sustainable because the entire curriculum fits into a reusable kit that can be easily transportable and includes instructions so that anyone who wants to present it would be able to. All content materials are laminated and in the lesson are filled out with whiteboard markers, to use paper sustainably and cut down on the amount being used. Additionally, any participants who asked for my PowerPoint presentation or pictures of curriculum materials were able to take documentation of my project, with the intention of presenting something similar with either their teen programs, or just to speak with their family, friends, and communities about my project and its contents.

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

My project encompasses both a national and global connection. The national connection stems from the conference attendees who attended the zoo’s teen conference (from 7+ states) who took pieces of my project home with them to share with their communities. The global connection stems from the range of topics and research sources I used in which impacts many communities and ecosystems throughout the world. Some of the local zoo staff members I worked with to gain a research base have worked with international conservation efforts and organizations and used insight and knowledge from that to help me fuel my project.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned many things about myself, including the development and improvement of many personal skills. I developed confidence when public speaking and I learned how critical it is to maintain an open mind and be able to maturely receive feedback and criticism. I learned that I do possess the kind of committed and driven attitude needed to undertake and successfully complete a large project like the Girl Scout Gold Award. I additionally learned about how serious the importance of time management is, as I learned the hard way a few times while completing this project.

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

This Gold Award project will impact me in the future, because it showed me what aspect of conservation I really am passionate about, and has allowed me to shift what I want to pursue in college in the next couple years. This project is something that I will be able to build upon in my career to help make a difference in the world for conservation and global communities alike. Additionally, Gold Awards are regarded highly in college applications and on job resumes, so having earned my Gold Award may allow me to have more opportunities and advantages in the working world.

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

Completing and earning the Gold Award was one of the most important parts of my 11 years in Girl Scouts, because it showed me how I can use a team of people who care about me and my efforts, in addition to my passion for leadership to create something truly inspiring. Being a Girl Scout my whole life has helped me to believe that I can make a difference in the world if I set my mind to something, and this experience showed me just how possible this was.

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

Even though this Gold Award project helped me to become all the traits of being a G.I.R.L., the one that sticks out to me the most is go- getter. Undertaking and completing this project helped me to realize that even though I am only a teenager, I can accomplish great things, and have the power to enact change for something I really care about. It helped me to develop a new sense of unwavering determination for long term projects with delayed results, but I’ve learned how worth it is.

**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