An Earth Day Message: How My Girl Scout Gold Award Project Shaped Me as an Environmentalist

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Rachel Mazyck

Earth Day 2020 will be like no other. While humans are dealing with a pandemic, the planet is getting a chance to recharge.  In completing my Girl Scout Gold Award project, I learned what we are all seeing now – our planet is resilient. 

Two years ago, I earned my Gold Award, a national recognition and the highest award a Girl Scout can earn.  A Gold Award project must take on a current problem in our world; and have a lasting and sustainable impact.    

 I love the environment and learned that our delicate ecosystem here in South Florida is in danger.  For my Gold Award project, I partnered with Florida International University Biscayne Bay campus to restore a mangrove habitat on Biscayne Bay.  I raised and plant over 100 mangrove seedlings. It was a big challenge, and I had no idea what I was in for, including a lot of dirt, sweat and oh yeah, a hurricane too.   

There were lots of challenges, from the very start. It took four months of emails, phone calls, and “no” to find a partner organization.  Once I started working FIU, there were a lot of physical challenges in caring for the seedlings, constantly carrying heavy materials and supplies across campus.  I kept thinking to myself “it will be worth it.” 

Rachel with seedlings

The biggest challenge was Hurricane Irma.  I remember the dreaded feeling, worrying that my hard work may have been for nothing.  I was overjoyed to see that even after the storm, the plantings were still there.  I feel proud knowing that I did a project that will outlast me, forever having an impact on our environment.   Our planet is strong, and when given a chance, it bounces back. 

I was in eleventh grade when I did this project.   It was a busy time, I had two internships too, and often did not get to hang out on weekends.  There were moments when I thought of quitting, but every time there was someone who helped set me back on track.  My mom, troop leader, or other Girl Scout moms were a support system like no other.  It was a hectic mess at moments, but I would not take this experience back for the world. The life skills and relationships I created made those challenges completely worth it.   

Now I am a sophomore at Florida Atlantic University.  I came to college armed with the experience from my Gold Award project.  I’m a geography major with a focus in environmental science.  I am considering a career in environmental conservation; and will continue to make a difference for the environment.  

This Earth Day, and always, I am proud to represent Girl Scouts.  Through my Gold Award project, I know that our planet is strong.  With everyone staying home, the earth is showing how quickly it can heal.  Girl Scouts shaped me into who I am.  I know that I can reach my goals, because I am a G.I.R.L. – Go getter, Innovator, Risk Taker & Leader.  

For more info on Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida visit their website: https://www.girlscoutsfl.org/


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