Katie has always been passionate about the outdoors, but was never really a bird-watcher. That changed when she embarked on her Girl Scout Gold Award project last year. For the project, she organized volunteers to build houses for bluebirds, who are often crowded out of their natural habitat by house sparrows.
Katie’s project marked the first time she took charge of a service project completely on her own. Other projects had guidelines to follow, but for the Gold Award project, she had to come up with her own plan.
In the beginning, she was nervous about finding a topic for her project and wasn’t even sure what to choose. She began calling park and city officials to learn what they might need. By talking on the phone with so many different adults, she learned to communicate better, advocate for herself, gain support and make others understand what she was trying to accomplish.
Working to improve local habitat for bluebirds caused Katie to interact with people that she never would have met otherwise, including the woman who became her advisor, a wildlife technician who needed the bluebird houses for Three Rivers Park District. Each time she met with the technician, Katie encountered different types of wildlife, including a turtle the technician was nursing back to life after being hit by a car, and had a first-hand view of what it was like to work in this unique job.
Making a difference for bluebirds made Katie feel proud. She and her volunteers built 19 bluebird houses. She also created a video demonstrating the correct way to build one and conducted educational workshops.
Katie says if she weren’t in Girl Scouts, she wouldn’t be as inspired to help others or take action in the world. Her Gold Award project made her realize how much work goes on behind the scenes to maintain park land, and now she plans to make volunteering for parks a priority in her life.