Girl Scouts’ Golden Gals Benefit Communities

Meredith Burke reintroduces native grasses at the Connemara Conservancy in Allen. (Photo: Girl scouts of Northeast Texas)
Meredith Burke reintroduces native grasses at the Connemara Conservancy in Allen. (Photo: Girl Scouts of NE Texas)

Just call them the golden girls.

Local Girl Scouts Meredith Burke, Grace Cunningham, Meghan Harshaw, Ryan McBride, Susan Adelaide Moore, Farish Mozley, and Amanda White recently received the organization’s prestigious Gold Award for developing projects as global-minded as they are gilded.

“It takes a minimum of 80 hours to complete a Gold Award [project],” explained Ana Harshaw, who leads Troop 306. “Twenty of the 80 hours must be in leadership. The project must also be sustainable and global, and the girl must be able to evaluate the impact of the project.”

In other words, a Girl Scout must not only identify a problem — she must take measurable action in order to solve it. Take Harshaw’s daughter-turned-Troop member, Meghan, for example. Concerned after observing two years of West Nile Virus outbreaks in Dallas County, Meghan began researching preventative measures that were both natural and eco-friendly. Her final solution? Let’s just say it’s a bit, well, batty.

“In my zip code there was a major outbreak,” Meghan recalled. “I researched how to curb West Nile and we found out that bats eat a lot of mosquitoes, so we decided to build bat houses.”

With full cooperation from her homeowners association, Megan began building and installing bat houses for every neighbor willing to participate. For those desiring an artistic touch, she added a spray-painted Batman logo.

“Most people thought it was cool because they didn’t even know we had bats in our neighborhood,” Meghan said. “Everyone I gave a bat house to already did some research on their own about [West Nile], so they were really interested.”

And then there’s Meredith Burke, a member of Troop 603. After learning that less than one percent of the Blackland Prairie remains in North Texas, the Hockadaisy teamed up with Connemara Conservancy in Allen to create a method for reintroducing native plants to areas overtaken by invasive grasses.

“This is one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America, and it’s right on our doorstep,” said Meredith, whose two-year restoration project was funded in part by a $500 grant from Radio Disney. “The Gold Award has given me a platform to advocate and fight for the Blackland Prairie. It’s empowered me to … save something I love.”

Although her Gold Award-winning project has officially been completed, Meredith’s efforts on behalf of the Blackland Prairie continue to increase. She’s currently raising quail in her backyard that she will eventually release into restored prairie lands.

“Now that we have the plant life rejuvenated, we’re working on the animal life,” Meredith said. “We’re trying to rebuild the ecosystem one layer at a time.”

For more news on other golden gals, check out our blog on Thursday. This story also appears in the July issue of Preston Hollow People

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