The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador can earn, an honor just around 5.4 percent of registered Girl Scouts achieve, according to scoutsociety.org. In order to earn the award, a Scout must plan and implement what is called a “Take Action” project, something that reaches outside of the organization and provides a sustainable, lasting service to the Scout’s wider community.
Recently, Marlton Girl Scout and Cherokee High School senior Waverly Pross, of Troop 21078, completed her project, a new information kiosk, built from scratch, for the Kings Run Trailhead at Black Run Preserve.
Officials of the 1,300-acre nature preserve consider these kiosks to be one of their most critical tools, providing information about upcoming events, the preserve’s newsletters, trail guidelines and maps for hikers.
Waverly has many fond memories of hiking and exploring around her local nature preserve, which is why it was one of the first things to pop into her head when she started brainstorming for possible project ideas.
“When they said to address a problem in your community, I immediately thought of nature and hiking because I really like being outdoors,” said Waverly.
When she contacted Black Run and asked how she could be of service, they informed her they are always in need of additional information kiosks, as they frequently add new trails and try to mark each with a kiosk to help guide and inform visitors.
Waverly started her project from scratch, working with a blueprint provided by Black Run. Using grant funds procured from the TLF (Thinking, Learning, Fun) Foundation and money raised by her troop, she gathered building materials from nearby hardware stores.
After gathering a small group of volunteers, including her parents and members from her troop, Waverly tackled the project head on. From start to finish, she says the actual construction of the kiosk took two days of work and ended up requiring a little outside-the-box thinking.
“We had to pick up extra materials along the way and improvise. The plans were not great,” said Waverly.
“We learned to think on the fly,” added her mother, Amy.
In addition to installing this new kiosk, Waverly actually took her project a step further and completed some upkeep work on existing kiosks around the preserve, making sure each was fully stocked, up-to-date and accurate.
On Saturday, Oct. 26, Black Run Preserve held an unveiling ceremony for the new kiosk, where Waverly had a chance to talk about the project, share her love of the nature preserve and pass on some of the knowledge she has gained through her many years as a Scout to a younger generation of Girl Scouts. She hopes to inspire them to take on similar challenges and find their own way to make a difference in their community.
“It seems like a big task but once you’re done you really feel a sense of accomplishment and it gives you good life skills to work through all those steps,” said Waverly.
Amy couldn’t agree more. A former Scout herself, she has seen firsthand the effects her daughter’s involvement with the organization have had on her.
“She’s been able to experience things she wouldn’t have normally,” said Amy. “We take our kids out to do things, but this just expands their world even more.”