Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gold Award spotlight: Girl Scout's take-action project goes downhill

To earn her Gold Award, Jessica Friss created a take-action project to solve a problem in her community—not only in the short term, but for years into the future.

A Girl Scout is encouraged to use her values and skills to choose a community issue that she cares about. Jessica's Gold Award project addressed the issue of rainwater runoff at a trail head in Mount Washington, located at the bottom of two steep hills on the corner of Republic and Fingal Streets.

The water flowing quickly downhill was damaging a local roadway. To remedy this, Jessica set out to create a rain garden capture the water as it flowed off the steep streets.

Jessica Friss
A rain garden is a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses which allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas—like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots, and compacted lawn areas—to be absorbed.

Jessica met with Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) and StormWorks, a local rainwater management company, to help design the best type of rain garden for the site.

She then organized separate digging and planting events through the WMCDC. She went door-to-door on the surrounding streets to recruit volunteers for the events and to educate neighbors about the rain garden.

More than 20 volunteers helped on the first day of digging, completing the base of the rain garden and smaller overflow garden. Later that summer, volunteers filled the garden with dirt and planted native perennials that were deer resistant and could withstand large amounts of water that could contain salt and other contaminates from the road.

She also created and distributed brochures about the project and spoke at an event held at the Mt. Washington Carnegie Library.

Jessica's rain garden not only addressed the deterioration of the roadway, it also helped filter the polluted runoff water and provided a beautiful garden for the neighborhood.

Gold benefits

Gold Award projects help communities and give girls important leadership skills, teaching them to seek out the work that needs doing in the world.

There are other benefits to "going Gold" as well. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

More information about the Girl Scout Gold Award is available at Learn about the Gold Award's 100th anniversary at