St. Louis, MO – September 8, 2016 – Four students in the Webster Groves and Kirkwood areas earned their Girl Scout Gold Awards this year. Kaitlyn Estopare, Samantha Lovett, Calle Uerling and Vivian Hulsey were among 42 young women in eastern Missouri honored at a ceremony earlier this summer.
Gardening offers children hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that spur growth through multiple the disciplines, including science, language and nutrition. A junior at Ursuline Academy, Kaitlyn Estopare wanted to bring these benefits to the children at St. Louis Crisis Nursery through her Gold Award project. She built three raised garden beds and a 42-foot garden area, planting a variety of vegetables like carrots, squash, tomatoes and green beans. She also worked with another volunteer to create a cookbook featuring recipes using produce from the garden.
“Some of the kids were really shy, but once they started gardening, it opened them up,” Estopare said. “The garden helped the residents become more of a community, working together to create something good. The food was used in the kitchen, and the kids learned about responsibility and doing things on their own.”
Samantha Lovett, a 2016 Kirkwood High School graduate, said she learned how to be a leader through completing her Gold Award. She rejuvenated the facilities at Our Lady’s Inn, a nonprofit providing pregnant women and their children shelter and support. Lovett updated the space to be more modern and fresh, and designed an art project for the children to express themselves.
“The space is brighter and homier,” she said. “I wanted to have the women living there be proud of where they are, and not ashamed of where they’re living and that they need help.”
Also a 2016 Kirkwood High School graduate, Calle Uerling sought to help the St. Louis Pet Adoption Center increase its adoption rate. She renovated three of the pet visitation rooms, making them more cheerful and welcoming, and coordinated with another volunteer to build benches for volunteers to use when walking the dogs outside. To encourage community members to visit the center and consider providing a forever home to a shelter pet, Calle streamlined the adoption process by remaking the organization’s flier.
“Earning the Gold Award taught me how to take charge and be more proactive, instead of waiting for people to come to me,” Uerling said.
Vivian Hulsey, a 2015 graduate of Nerinx Hall High School, created a nonfiction library at City Garden Montessori Charter School to earn her Gold Award. Though the school had received donated nonfiction books, they had no way to catalog or loan them out. Hulsey entered more than 1,000 books into a library software database, and organized the books according to the Dewey Decimal System. To encourage students and teachers to use the library, she created a website and exercises explaining how to navigate the library, check out books and use them for schoolwork.
“Seeing the final product and putting all the books on the shelves was so rewarding,” Hulsey said. “I loved my school library, which is one of the reasons I picked this project. It was so exciting because I knew it would help the school, and be a great tool for kids doing research projects and learning how to write papers.”
The Gold Award is the highest national award a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador, girls in grade 9-12, can earn. Attaining the Girl Scout Gold Award requires a significant amount of time planning and implementing a challenging, large-scale project that is innovative, engages others and has a lasting impact on its targeted community with an emphasis on sustainability.
Less than one percent of all Girl Scouts earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, putting them among an exceptional group of women who have used their knowledge and leadership skills to make a difference in the world. Some of the Gold Awardee benefits are:
- A Girl Scout who has earned her Gold Award and enlists in the US Armed Forces, immediately rises one level in rank
- Colleges and universities recognize the achievements and leadership abilities of Girl Scout Gold Award recipients by offering scholarship programs
- Achievements of the Girl Scout Gold Award recipients are acknowledged by many government and non-profit organizations