Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois (GSSI) is pleased to announce that Tessa Beckmann from Germantown has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can receive. For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Tessa created a large garden for the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry to help provide fresh produce to families in need.
“My sister did a project while in nursing school on food deserts that interested me,” she explained. “Food deserts are where there are little to no fresh fruit and vegetables available. I realized that recipients of food from the pantry only receive boxed or canned goods and I wanted to be able to get fresh produce to families that could not afford to buy it for themselves.”
To help make a difference, Tessa collaborated with the Village of Germantown and local volunteers to design, plant and fertilize a large garden that could provide fresh fruits and vegetables to families in need. She not only cultivated the land, but developed a reliable water source to sustain the garden, as well. Working with city hall, she helped revitalize an old well using supplies donated from area businesses. She then recruited additional volunteers to sustain the garden through regular weeding, watering and harvesting. Fruits and vegetables that were grown and collected by the volunteer team led by Tessa were distributed by St. Vincent de Paul food pantry.
To spread awareness about the value of community gardens, Tessa promoted her Girl Scout Gold Award project in the community through a Facebook Page and an educational program for children. At the educational program, she explained the steps to her project and then taught kids about caring for a garden. Through her Facebook Page, she published updates on the progress of her garden and shared information about food deserts and how community gardens can help overcome them. She also urged area gardeners to donate any surplus produce to help nourish families in need.
Tessa shared that along helping her community, she experienced personal rewards from earning her Girl Scout Gold Award, as well.
“You get out of your garden what you put into it. It seems like a lot of work, but if you make a plan and follow it, you can reap great rewards,” she said. “I will not be afraid to take on the role of leader now. I feel like I could take on other roles in my community and make changes for the positive.”
Tessa is the daughter of Deb and Gary Beckmann. She is currently a junior at Breese Central High School and has been a Girl Scout for 11 years.
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.