A local Girl Scout has taken the phrase “Think globally, act locally” beyond bumper stickers and t-shirts. Devoting her time to improving the earth, she made a difference in her community by giving a park in Thornton, Colorado, a team makeover, cleaning it up and caring for it for the future.
“I wanted to do something green,” said Amanda Wiseman, recipient of the Girl Scouts of the USA Gold Award, “this was before “green” was in.” The highest achievement that can be earned in Girl Scouts, the Gold Award requires skills in leadership, organization, and perseverance in projects that serve the community.
Wiseman received her Gold Award April 26, one of 49 recipients earning this honor in Colorado this year. Her project, Eco Education, centered on using a city park as a means for teaching youth the importance of the environment. In total, she spent a year and a half building her project, coordinating volunteers who donated 67 hours to keeping a park clean.
Settling on Eastlake Park III in the city of Thornton as her focus (“some friends and I have history there, with a lot of inside jokes about it”), Wiseman soon learned patience in dealing with government. “At first it was hard to get ahold of them (the City of Thornton). They have no formal adoption process for people wanting to care for parks,” she said. But once they understood the scope of Wiseman’s project, the city was easy to work with, and enthusiastic about her success at long-term planning.
Wanting her project to be more than a one-year wonder, Wiseman designed it to be a self-sustaining way to care for this small patch of nature. Recruiting 10 Girl Scout troops to help, Wiseman had each troop sign up for one month per year as their time to clean up the park. Leaders now keep their troops volunteering to clean them, where the bags of trash and recycling collected by the girls are picked up by the City for disposal.
Though the park adoption part of her project is running smoothly, Wiseman admits that there were learning moments in this project as well. Originally, her goal was to start an Eco-friendly club at a local middle school, but that fell through when the school no longer wanted the club.
But Wiseman, now finishing her Freshman year at Colorado State University, is philosophical about the experience. “I learned a lot about myself. I’m better at communication now, and scheduling,” she said, “I learned all kinds of things, one of which is to be realistic.”