Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois (GSSI) is pleased to announce that Victoria Birchem from O’Fallon has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can receive.
For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, called Nomenclature for Nature, Victoria helped make updates at O’Fallon Community Garden, then hosted a program at the site. To start, she worked with O’Fallon Garden Club President Sterling Garnto to inventory garden beds by cataloging all of the plants and details about them. She printed and arranged the inventory into a binder for reference, as well as saved the file on a flash drive so ongoing garden additions could be tracked with ease. Next, she helped research, order and install new garden tags, so that visitors could easily identify the plants. Last, she coordinated public garden tours and organized a program for local Girl Scout troops to learn more about O’Fallon Community Garden, as well as different plants and their importance in the local ecosystem. Following the program, many Girl Scouts expressed interest in helping at the O’Fallon Community Garden, as well as in starting gardens of their own.
Victoria stressed the value of community members working together to utilize local resources to create a positive impact. “With my tours, I was able to educate not only young Girl Scouts, but also their parents and leaders about what O’Fallon has to offer, like its garden. Spreading awareness about the importance of maintaining an ecosystem with appropriate pollinators and plants would be beneficial to every community in the world.”
She noted that she too, was able to flourish by completing her Girl Scout Gold Award project. “I learned that I am capable of doing anything I strive to do,” Victoria said. “I also learned how invested other people were willing to be. I gained so much support from my community and family, and it makes me happy to see my community come together.”
Victoria is the daughter of Bryan and Mary Birchem. She started her Girl Scout Gold Award project during her senior year at O’Fallon Township High School in spring 2017 and completed work on it in early September. She is currently a freshman at Saint Louis University, where she is studying accounting.
The Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, recognizes a Girl Scout's commitment to excellence as she develops skills and values to meet present and future challenges in her life. To earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, a Girl Scout Senior or Girl Scout Ambassador must design and carry out a project that fulfills a need within a girl’s community, creates change, and is sustainable. The project must be completed with a suggested minimum of 80 hours of work. Only about 5 percent of eligible girls earn the prestigious Gold Award.