Local Girl Scout is saving the world one craft at a time

Seneca student is honored the Girl Scout Gold Award for recycled craft project.

Nicole Sander at Seneca High School with the ring toss game she crafted out of recycled bottles and ironed perler beads — instructions are on her website.

Nicole Sander is “saving the world one craft at a time” with her Girl Scout Gold Award project. The name of the project says it all, with Sander recycling household items by turning them into crafts, games or gifts, allowing less trash to accumulate in landfills.

Sander has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, crossing the bridge from being a Daisy to being a Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior and now Ambassador.

As a Seneca High School senior and a member of Troop 24167, Sander was granted the opportunity to present her Gold Award project idea to the council of Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey. Once she received approval and feedback, she created a website to display her goals and craft ideas, with the help of her photographer friend, Julia Collins.

When visiting her website, https://the-crafty-girl-scout.weebly.com, there is information about the three R’s — reduce, reuse, recycle — going in-depth on how less waste can be put into the environment and finding new uses for waste items.

Sander’s goal as “the crafty Girl Scout” is to reach a larger audience through her website and to allow parents, teachers and children the chance to learn about unique, crafty ways to help the environment.

She has reached out to Safe and Sound before- and after-school care services, as well as preschools and daycares in the area in hopes they will adopt some of her ideas into their activities.

Another part of her Gold Award project was coordinating an event called “Thinking Day” with the help of troop members Jessica Hamilton and Amber Malon. Girl Scout seniors Meghan Hatley, Shayna Lehman and Grace McGowan also assisted in the Thinking Day workshop, and all levels of Girl Scouts attended.

At this workshop, four stations were set up, two of which were craft stations where people would make three crafts. One station allowed people to create games out of recycled material, and the fourth station explained how those crafts and games utilized the three R’s.

The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can receive, after the Bronze and Silver awards, and Sander is thrilled to have received it.

“I felt so accomplished and proud of myself,” Sander said. “I put a lot of work and dedication into this and I’m so happy.”

Sander will be given the Gold Award pin at the pinning ceremony that will be held on May 20. Sander has chosen her older sister Lauren, who has continued her Girl Scout career as part of the Gold Award Committee, to do the honor of pinning her.

Along with her project, Sander also participates in the community camping trip held every 18 months for all Girl Scouts to attend. This year’s trip was at Camp Inawendiwin, where the troops did a variety of outdoor activities, including canoeing, archery, zip lining, knot tying, bonfires and other bonding activities.

“I love the activities we do and how we do them as a troop,” Sander said. “Everyone is so nice and loves being a Girl Scout and loves what they’re doing for the community.”

Through being a Girl Scout, Sander said, “I have learned that I’m a natural born leader, and through the process I learned that I am going into the right profession of elementary school teaching.”

Sander hopes to continue to be a part of the Girl Scout community while pursuing elementary education via an online team of Girl Scouts who assist in the award process for younger members, while saving the environment along the way.