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GIRL SCOUT GOLD AWARD PROJECT: Catharine R. Donohue, Broomfield, “Hens for Friends”


Catharine R. Donohue pic

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

Background: Acres of Opportunity Ranch (AOR) is a not-for-profit organization which partners with horses that have been rescued or retired to educate the community about horses through outreach and onsite opportunities. Their emphasis is on horse education and life skills rather than riding. This effort helps minimize the number of horses that are “thrown away” due to lack of understanding and financial means to take care of a horse. In addition, AOR has a hippotherapy program. In hippotherapy, movements of the horses are used to provide motor and sensory input to people with physical or mental challenges.

Global Issue: There is a need to educate people on animal ownership (care, cost, and responsibility) so that animals are less likely to be “thrown away” because an owner didn’t know what all was involved with owning an animal.

Local Issue: The ranch has other barnyard animals including chickens that were occupying a horse stall that was needed for the program horses. This horse stall-chicken coop was not predator proof, so the chickens occasionally went missing.

  1. Solution: Design and build a proper chicken coop with a secure chicken run, and then relocate the chickens. The horse stall will also need to be cleaned and readied for a horse.

  2. Additional Benefits: The chickens will also be used to educate and stimulate clients of all kinds and ages, including clients with physical or mental challenges. Interestingly, many people are afraid of chickens, and some people don’t truly understand where an egg comes from. Seeing chickens and being able to interact with them will help with this understanding.

Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?

I pursued this project because I am passionate about animals and making sure they are properly treated. A major reason animals are abandoned is because people don’t know how to properly care for them or how much it really costs.

How did your Gold Award project make a difference?

My Gold Award project will impact and educate people of all ages for many years. My target audience includes kids and teens of Acres of Opportunity Ranch. They will learn the basics of how to care for and treat horses and chickens so that in the future, if they get a pet, it will not be “thrown away” because they don’t know how to properly care for them or how much it really costs.

What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?

I gained practical life skills. I learned how to properly speak on the phone, connect with people via email, make meeting dates, and speak publicly. I developed critical thinking. I had to find ways to work in tight situations, using the environment and people around me. I grew as a leader when I promoted cooperation and team building. I had many volunteers throughout my project, and some of them did not know each other. I had team meetings every time I met with volunteers to go over names and safety. I advocated for myself and others, locally and globally – when looking for donations and volunteers, I had to explain who I was, what my project was, and where my project was being built. By doing this, I advocated myself, Girl Scouts, Hens for Friends, and Acres of Opportunity Ranch.

How did you make your project sustainable?

The chickens have become a permanent part of the AOR education program. AOR will continue to feed and care for the chickens. An immediate impact my project had was that the chickens were able to move out of the horse stall, and that a horse was immediately able to move into that vacant horse stall. A long-term impact of my project will be that the chickens will have a proper and safe chicken coop to stay. Eggs will also be gathered from the hens and sold to buy chicken feed and other chicken necessities.

What was your connection to the national or global community?

The chickens will be used to educate and stimulate clients of all kinds and ages, having physical or mental challenges or not. Many people are afraid of chickens, and some people don’t truly understand where an egg comes from. Seeing chickens and being able to interact with them will help people’s understanding. People need to be properly educated on animal ownership so that animals are less likely to be “thrown away” because the owner didn’t know the responsibilities of owning an animal.

What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?

How well the coop turned out in the end. The chickens were so happy with their new coop that they started to lay eggs the day they moved in, which is very uncommon.

How will earning your Gold Award help you in your future?

Having completed my Gold Award, I have learned some important skills that will help me in the future. I will not be afraid to complete big challenges and I will be able to lead in large groups. I learned time management and organizational skills that will help me be a good leader. These skills will help me in college and in future careers.

Why do you feel the Gold Award is an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

I have been a Girl Scout for 11 years and it has been an amazing experience. I earned the Bronze and Silver Awards, and it was always a goal to earn my Gold Award – the top honor of Girl Scouts. Earning the Gold Award was a huge milestone in my scouting career.

***IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email highestawards@gscolorado.org

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