Girl Scout Lauren Kuhman, Spreads Hiking Awareness

Q. What inspired your Gold Award project?
A. Part of it, at first, was the surface level benefits (scholarships, recognition, etc). The other part was the excitement of completing a project, which had an impact, where I could say I changed something. As my project progressed my motives became solely focused on the desire to work towards a solution, and to experience a personal change and a communal change.

Q. Short description of your project?
A. For my Gold Award Project, I wanted to focus on hiking safety in Phoenix. I implemented a project which would both be sustainable and informational to hikers. I updated one of the hiking trail sign information, closed a major un-designated trail, created a water bottle sticker, and a Snapchat filter, all surrounding the issue of hiking awareness. All aspects of my project, besides the closing of hiking trails, was created to show hiking safety awareness to a larger audience. Using social media, and popular culture (like stickers), more people will recognize hiking safety in an entertaining way. The trail closure was a major part of “taking action” because it helped prevent part of the issue on a surface level. It restored the desert landscape and was aimed to be a more physical solution to the issue. Both parts of my project, however, are essential and helped combat ignorance on mountains.

Q. What were the results or impact of your project?
A. My project specifically addressed hiking safety in the Phoenix area, focusing specifically on North Mountain. In creating my multi-part project I targeted hikers’ ignorance in an entertaining, but educational manner. Using the Snapchat filter and stickers, I reach a wider audience with recognizable means to remind of proper hiking safety. The new signage and trail closures consists of updated information for proper hiking experience and safety. I impacted my community in the fact that every hiker on North Mountain will have access to safer routes (with the closed undesignated trail, they won’t injured through that past “trail”), more information, and stylistic reminders to hike safely.

Q. What important lessons did you learn about yourself?
A. On a surface level, this project has shown me the positive impact I can initiate, but on a personal level, this project has helped me face change. It isn’t the sustainability of this project that I am most proud of, or my ideas, but my effort to continue. My relationship with change is no longer one of wanderlust, but one of need. I feel different. Sometimes I think, what happened to that quiet girl with large ambitions, who was scared to pursue them? I then remember: she grew confidence. I go now into the world with a perspective that lets me see the possibility I have in the world and for myself. I’ll keep working, I’ll keep changing, I’ll keep living, and even if I am scared, I’ll continue.

Q. How long have you been a Girl Scout?
A. Thirteen amazing years!

Q. What has Girl Scouting meant to you or what impact has it had on you?
A. Girl Scouting has given me the confidence to embrace change. Change for myself, and change for communities. I know, more than ever, that I can create change.

Q. What high school do you attend?
A. Bourgade Catholic High School.

Q. What are your future plans, after high school?
A. I haven’t chosen a specific college, yet. I hope to pursue a career in the non-profit sector or in policy making.

Q. Any other interesting information about yourself?
A. I was TERRIFIED of making phone calls, and I had never done “networking” before. I thought I had it handled by my initial interview, until I realized I could grow more in that aspect of using my voice. I am better/willing to talk with strangers on the phone now.

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