Heidi Novak isn’t a gardner.
However, that didn’t stop the 2019 St. Joseph-Ogden High School graduate from creating a butterfly garden at St. Joseph Grade School for her Girl Scout Gold Award. She also created informational binders for students that identified the plants used in the project
“I am going to school for nursing,” Novak said. “Planting flowers, I enjoy it, but it’s not something I am skilled at.”
Novak said she thought a butterfly garden was a good way to create a lasting project in the community that children can use and learn from.
“I wanted to give back to the community and my local school,” she said. “I looked at what needed to be done in our community and how I could benefit the community with the project.”
The Gold Award is the highest achievement a Girl Scout can achieve. The award is earned by Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts. Only 5.4% of eligible Girl Scouts successfully earn the Gold Award.
“This is a big deal,” said Dina Fox, Novak’s Troop Leader. “These girls don’t have time to do Gold Awards but Heidi chose it and she chose to make time.”
To qualify for a Gold Award a Scout must complete two to journeys or complete one journey and earn their Silver Award. A journey culminates in a Take Action project that helps Scouts make the world a better place. A Silver Award is for Girl Scout Cadettes and involved a project to be better their community.
For the Gold Award the project must reach beyond the url Scout organization and provide a sustainable, lasting benefit to the community.
The Gold Award requires at least 80 hours of work planning and completing the project. Plans for the project are supervised by an advisor, a project proposal is submitted to and approved by the girl’s local council and a final report must be submitted and approved after the project’s completion.
Novak said her family helped her and supported her with the project and her mother, Donna Abbott, encouraged her to finish the project.
Novak said the hardest part of the project was actually assembling the garden, which is in the shape of a butterfly.
“The best part of the process was painting the different butterfly houses with my step sister and watering the plants every day,” Novak said.
Novak said she enjoyed her time in Girl Scouts and the friendships she formed.
“My favorite part of Girl Scouts was going on outings with my troop and always having a good time,” she said.
Novak said she hopes people who see and use the butterfly garden understand that teenagers care about their community too.
“I hope the community sees that teenagers still care about what happens with our youth and how doing small things can make an impact,” she said.
Fox said Novak was constantly surprising her with the project. She would get texts from Novak saying the project was done, the paper work was complete and she was going to do an interview with the council.
“Soon it was done,” Fox said. “It taught me to never underestimate the girls in our troop.”
For her part, Novak said she is glad she completed the award despite the numerous hours of work and dedication it took. She would also recommend other scouts attempt to complete their Gold Award.
“It will always be something to be proud of,” Novak said,
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