Shiranthi felt overwhelmed by all the things she wanted to accomplish with her Gold Award project. Following her passion for the environment and health education, she had decided to teach kids in her community how to build a mini-scale aquaponics system so their families could grow their own affordable, healthy food.
She knew it would be challenging to explain aquaponics, a combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water), to kids and volunteers. She wanted the scientific concepts to be clear and yet fun to learn.
The Gold Award helped Shiranthi focus her ideas, develop a plan and make sure it was feasible. By talking with her advisor and organizing a team of volunteers, she learned a lot about herself and her own limits. She learned to delegate and be a better leader.
Her project goal was to enable the kids to re-make the system and pass along what they learned, but Shiranthi was unsure of how the kids would respond. Through a lot of hard work, the project succeeded beyond her imagination.
With a team of 12 volunteers, she taught almost 30 kids to build an aquaponics system, each one with fish and growing plants. A few girls didn’t like getting dirty at the start of class, but by the end they were grabbing the tools instead of just letting the boys do it. Some kids said they didn’t like science, but they really got into the project anyway. Now the kids are more willing to try new things, including eating vegetables.
Through Girl Scouts, Shiranthi felt empowered to pursue her passions and do a large service project on her own. As she reflected on her Gold Award experience, her pride showed through. “It was great because it worked, “she said, “but it was even cooler that the kids could explain exactly what was happening, why it’s important, how it can benefit people and that they were so excited about the project.”