Earthsavers of the Month
SCA and the Girl Scouts of the USA recently announced a dynamic new partnership designed to increase Girl Scouts’ exposure to the outdoors and leverage these experiences in nature to build Scouts’ leadership skills. The collaboration includes an all-Girl Scout conservation crew at Shenandoah National Park this summer and SCA internships in five Girl Scout councils nationwide to expand outdoor programs and curricula.
Recently, Girl Scout Troop 1165 Leader Jennifer Manguera brought her Scouts to an SCA service project in Washington, DC, and was asked about scouting, the importance of volunteering, and the call of the Great Outdoors.
What’s your service story?
We are Brownie Troop 1165 from Silver Spring — we have 20 girls in the Troop, all under 10 years old. We came out to serve with SCA because our members have been working towards the Girl Scout Ranger Patch and have been focusing on National Parks during their 100th year. We started off the year doing a river cleanup at Anacostia National Park, went hiking in Rock Creek Park, and finished up at Greenbelt National Park.
A large part of Girl Scouts is community service. We do a number of service projects every year, ranging from food drives to visiting nursing homes to putting together survival bags for a homeless shelter, but our troop especially likes helping animals and nature. We have also learned a lot about other people who give back to communities, like social workers, guide dog trainers, and beekeepers. But as one of the girls said, they especially like to help “cleaning the planet”.
Why are SCA and the Girl Scouts well suited for a partnership?
In my opinion, SCA and Girl Scouts are a perfect match! They share the common goal of getting girls outside and taking ownership of the earth. Both want to give the younger generation (and their adults) the tools to make a difference in preserving our parks and green spaces.
GSUSA will be able to benefit from the knowledge and enthusiasm of SCA in the environment and in getting the girls out there and getting their hands dirty! Girl Scouts thrive on hands-on experiences and by getting these opportunities they will not just get a better understanding of their local parks, but also national parks.
What’s your favorite green space?
Nationally, our troop members are split between Assateague Island National Seashore and Mount Rushmore. Locally it is Sligo Creek Parkway in Silver Spring.
Tell us about one of your favorite service experiences.
The troop really enjoys getting to make a difference, regardless of the fact that they are so young. So most of their favorite troop activities have to do with helping their communities. The river cleanup at Anacostia Park was a highlight this year because the girls were able to really get into the brush to find trash and felt like detectives in searching out even the smallest item.
What are some challenges youth leaders face? How can SCA help to provide the tools and resources they need to confidently guide youth in outdoor experiences?
One of the challenges that many leaders face is learning how to get their troops involved. By being able to do the events and programs that SCA does they don’t need to be experts themselves, they will have the SCA experts. And the girls will have a whole other set of mentors to encourage them in their stewardship and to encourage them to take the lead in protecting the environment. SCA has the tools and resources to teach the girls so much about conservation around the country.
Having brought my Girl Scout troop to a recent SCA event, I know that this will be a wonderful partnership that will benefit not only the scouts, but our whole community.