Helping Juniors earn their Bronze Award… one houseplant at a time!
By: Merica McCarty, Leader of Troop 75980
When I think about leading our young girls, my goal is to be a role model and show that if I show up for them, they can show up for one another and their community. Our troop has been together for five years, and over those years, we have pursued a variety of service projects to make our world a better place. Depending on how old we were, we’ve led food drives, organized and led the making of hundreds of Thanksgiving meal bags at our school each year for people without homes, left many teacher and staff appreciation surprises, and helped with our school fundraisers. We really emphasize being grateful for all we have and paying that forward to make our world brighter. Now that we’re older, the girls opted to earn their Bronze Award, and they have been up for the challenge!
If you haven’t done a lot of service projects already with your troop, or even just as a fabulous segue to earning the Bronze Award, I highly encourage your troop to earn the Agent of Change Journey first. It really sets the girls up for thinking about their own power, moving into the power of a team, and then into the power of community. Chances are, your troop will be able to brainstorm so many service projects with this journey, that you’ll set yourself up naturally for the Bronze Award.
Since our troop is a part of the Marshall Fire community, we had experienced so much love in the outpouring of support by our sister scouts, neighbors, businesses, and quite honestly, the whole world, that when it came time for us to think of an idea, girls were ready to show their gratitude and try to give more to our community members as we continue to rebuild. Some of us had housed surviving houseplants for friends and neighbors who didn’t lose their homes, rather were in hotels or displaced for months. Many houseplants died in the fire itself, but others in the aftermath of there being no heat in the homes that did survive. And so began our idea.
Plants bring life and hope. I cannot describe how many of us simply started crying when we saw the first spades of grass emerging from the black ground last spring. It was a reminder that even in the midst of chaos and loss, regrowth is around the corner. I remember seeing a peony growing last spring on a school friend’s burned lot. The family got a pot and took the only thing that made it with them. It’s hope. It’s life. It’s love.
Our girls felt all this too and so we’re acting on it with our Bronze Award project. We brainstormed a list of all the things we’d need to buy and do to pull this project off, and we’ve been tackling things left and right. We received a grant from our Girl Scout council, specific to the Marshall Fire, to help us with this project as well. The girls thought about the pots, plants, soil, rocks, and then went into ideas of making special cards of love to include. Some decided to propagate plant babies at home to hand out!
We let them choose what jobs they wanted to tackle at each meeting (I helped to decide the timeline of when we needed to get the jobs done ahead of time). I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of jobs and the excitement of girls picking them. I hate talking on the phone, and I really hate asking people for money or donations, and we had girls who jumped at the opportunity to do this. Two called to reserve the Rec Center space we’re using for our event and took notes. Another called our local plant shop, Planté, to see if they would sell us discounted plants to discover they would and they’d even teach us how to properly plant! Some girls made rough drafts for fliers and cards, others made them by computer. I admit, I’m not a tech guru by any means. So the girls really had to shine here. The troop came up with the idea of using Google Forms, created one, and wanted to include a QR for people to sign-up, while another group is creating a Xeric plant list to hand out. Girls also decided to include some optional holiday decorations for pick-up on top of it all! We also had to think about how to get the word out. This is where we enlisted our adults to help spread the word through social media, while girls hung fliers around the community and chatted with friends and neighbors.
We still have our final meeting to learn how to plant properly, put finishing touches on cards, and organize our thoughts for our December 4th event, but we’re feeling great! This really has been a troop effort, where everyone has contributed their strengths, or stepped up regardless, for us to accomplish our goal. It’s been amazing to see how our Girl Scout Juniors continue to grow and plant hope in our community’s homes. We are so grateful to support our community and learn how to make an impact in our world. I hope to hear and read about other Bronze Award projects and how much good a community of girls and women can do! Girl Scout Strong and 80027 Strong!