Top: Ryan Bradley, 8, works on the butterfly garden.
Bottom: Christine Owen, Tampa Bay Water water quality assurance officer, led the troop on a tour of the Tampa Bay Water Seawater Desalination Plant (below).
Brownie Troop 1373 took an active role in learning about the environment and how to protect it as they worked toward earning the Governor’s “Serve to Preserve” badge.
Two District employees, Christy Aulicino, an administrative assistant, and Pam Gifford, a legal assistant, lead the troop.
“At the beginning of the year the girls voted on what they wanted to focus on,” said Aulicino. “Conservation and public service projects were their top priorities.”
With the priorities set, Aulicino and Gifford began planning the troop’s conservation efforts and how they would meet the requirements for the Governor’s “Serve to Preserve” badge.
As part of their requirements, the troop learned about water conservation by reading the “My Water Activity Book” and the “WaterDrops” tabloids, which are educational materials provided by the District. As part of their studies, the girls also kept a week-long diary of their conservation efforts to submit to the Governor’s program.
In addition to studying about conservation, the Brownies got their hands dirty when they took part in National Public Lands Day in September. The girls helped clear the land, plant flowers and mulch a new butterfly garden at the Chinsegut Nature Center in Brooksville.
“They were rewarded for their hard work in just a few hours. By noon they were watching several species of butterflies enjoying the new garden,” said Aulicino.
A few months later, the troop was able to check on the progress of the butterfly garden when they attended Pioneer Day at the nature center.
“That was a nice follow-up opportunity for them to see the long-term impact of their work,” said Aulicino.
Just before Christmas, the troop took a field trip to the Big Bend Power Plant’s Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach and Tampa Bay Water’s Seawater Desalination Plant. The girls saw dozens of manatees and learned about their life and habitat. During the tour of the desalination plant, the Brownies were able to see and touch the filters used in the desalination process. They also learned about alternative water sources and the role that conservation plays in the effort to provide water to the region.
“The girls were impressed with how enormous the plant is and what it takes to remove salt from the gulf water to make it drinkable,” said Aulicino.
To satisfy the final requirement of the “Serve to Preserve” badge, the girls submitted drawings of how people can serve to preserve Florida’s natural environment.
The Brownies proudly received their badges in March.
“These experiences have brought the Brownies closer to becoming good environmental stewards,” said Aulicino. “They learned the value of the natural resources around them and how to be strong, productive, responsible and respectful women who will become the leaders of tomorrow.”
To learn more about the Girl Scout organization, please visit GirlScouts.org.
Free educational materials, such as the materials used by Troop 1373, can be ordered on the District’s web site at WaterMatters.org/publications/.