Q. What inspired your Gold Award project?
A. I decided to build a butterfly garden at the Granite Reef Senior Center because of my love of butterflies and the desire to help prevent their extinction. I came home from pre-kindergarten and could not stop talking about bugs and wanting to be an entomologist so I could work with insects. This project allows me to help butterflies and other beneficial insects. I am interested in ecology and improving the environment for the future. I would also like to encourage senior citizens to be more involved with nature, to take care of their local environment, and to enjoy the garden.
This project’s objective is to create a butterfly garden and Monarch butterfly way station in Scottsdale. It will help the local butterflies find a pesticide-free environment to rest, reproduce, and obtain nourishment. It will offer Monarchs a place to rest and nourish on their long migration across North America. The Granite Reef Senior Center provided me with an unused barren patch of grass that is 15′ x 40′ for the garden. I transformed that space into a thriving butterfly garden and Monarch way station filled with nectar and host plants for the butterflies.
Q. What were the results or impact of your project?
A. My project addressed the problem of pesticides and pollution in the environment that affect local wildlife, especially butterflies. A butterfly garden is a place that helps local butterflies and Monarchs find a safe environment to rest, reproduce and get nourishment. It also provides opportunities for the senior citizen community to help care for their local environment. Those who benefited from this project are the local butterflies, migrating Monarch butterflies, and the senior citizens that attend Granite Reef Senior Center and those that live at McDowell Village Senior Living. As a side benefit, by placing the garden next to a senior center and a senior living facility, the garden beautifies the area.
Q. What important lessons did you learn about yourself?
A. Through the process of building the garden, I gained confidence in approaching large corporations to provide materials to support the construction of the butterfly garden project. I learned that I was able to manage a big project from start to finish that will have a lasting impact. I also understood the process of managing donations and volunteers, assigning various tasks to volunteers, and adhering to a schedule.
Q. How long have you been a Girl Scout?
A. I have been a Girl Scout for eleven years, having started as a Daisy in Kindergarten through to Ambassador now in high school.
Q. What has Girl Scouting meant to you?
A. Girl Scouts has allowed me to discover and experience a variety of skills that I did not learn in school. I have learned leadership skills, perseverance, dependability, accounting, dedication, how to complete a big project from start to finish, and how to teach younger and older generations about the importance of the environment.
Q. What high school do you attend?
A. I attend Pinnacle High School in the Paradise Valley School District where I have a 4.0 GPA.
Q. What are your future plans, after high school?
A. I am researching various colleges where I can major in entomology and develop more skills through field experience. I want to gain more knowledge and experience so I can guide others in helping our wildlife and environment. I plan to someday work as a field scientist helping insects survive our changing environment.
Q. What else should we know about you?
A. When I was four years old, my preschool teacher taught a unit on insects. I came home and announced to my family that I would become an entomologist when I grow up. My interest in insects had begun. My parents bought me a butterfly pavilion where I could watch first hand the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly; and a ladybug dome where I could observe the larvae transform into ladybugs. I also begged for a praying mantis egg sack and watched hundreds of tiny babies hatch from the sacks; and kept walking sticks and other insects found in our yard as pets for a few days at a time. When I turned 13 years old, I became a Junior Volunteer at Butterfly Wonderland. I have educated guests on butterfly life cycles, the importance of bees in the environment, and how humans have a beneficial relationship with insects. I now work in the Butterfly Wonderland lab where I assist the entomology curator with the chrysalis and butterflies and the caring of their various insect species. This summer my family will visit La Selva Nature Preserve in Costa Rica where I will have the opportunity to shadow a field entomologist for a few days.