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Girl Scouts earn Bronze Award for land lab cleanup

Land Lab_Troop1865

All Girl Scouts set out to make the world a better place — and five Worthington Girl Scouts have done just that.

Emily Bartlett, Kaitlyn Bradshaw, Lia McGlone, Claudia Maxim and Madeline Zeher from Troop 1865 earned their Bronze Award for cleaning up a neglected land lab at their school, Worthington Hills Elementary.

When the girls started planning their project in November 2018, they were torn between different projects but worked together and realized cleaning the land lab would impact the most people because their whole school would benefit from their efforts.

“We wanted to do something with … nature and like habitats and stuff,” Madeline said. “We also wanted to do something to help our school and the land lab used to be used but it wasn’t anymore.”

The girls, who are now sixth graders, wanted to clean up the land lab “because it’s a great learning place,” Madeline said.

Worthington Hills Principal Allie Seiling, who used the land lab when she was a student at the school, said the land lab hasn’t been used with regularity in roughly 10 years.

After hours of research and planning, the girls spent two hours on Aug. 16 clearing 20 bags worth of trash from the wooded area and creek.

The troop members also created lesson plans with age appropriate activities related to math, science, art and English language arts for the kindergarten through sixth grade students who attend the school.

“We could do things without bringing the kids down to the land lab but bring it to the classroom,” Emily said of the activities.

Without the land lab, Seiling said the students of Worthington Hills have not had consistent outdoor learning opportunities.

“The girls making the land lab accessible and exciting for our teachers is going to be a great benefit to our kids,” she said.

Real-world application helps kids retain the information they’ve learned, Seiling said.

“I will say that for kids, and for us as adults, when we’re learning something, we’re much more motivated to do so when it’s engaging and it’s meaningful and it’s purposeful, so getting to be outside and learning from our surroundings helps to increase engagement and motivation,” she said. “It’s connected to a real-world experience and that’s what we as educators strive to do on a regular basis to make sure learning is at its optimal level.”

The girls hope now that the area is clean, animals will start to inhabit the area, which Lia said will hopefully inspire others to maintain the lab.

“People won’t want to litter because they know that that’s an animal habitat,” she said.

This school year is the girls’ last at Worthington Hills, and they want to ensure the land lab is taken care of in the future, troop leadership volunteer Donna Bobbitt-Zeher said. The troop members have talked about involving other groups, such as the PTA or younger Girl Scout troops, in efforts to maintain the area.

The girls presented their project Oct. 7 to the school’s teachers. And even though the land lab hasn’t been used by a class yet, it won’t be long until it is. Seiling said just minutes before the presentation started the school’s art teacher, who was unaware of the project, mentioned to Seiling she would love if her classes could use the land lab on a regular basis but felt she couldn’t because of its condition.

“It was very serendipitous that the kids then presented about their project,” Seiling said.

While students will benefit from the learning in the lab for years to come, Seiling said the long-term benefits of the girls’ Bronze Award project go beyond that.

“They’re able to demonstrate to those around them that anyone can change the world by putting forth effort,” she said. “I think that it serves as an example to others that you can do anything you put your mind to, and that teamwork and collaboration can result in some pretty awesome things,” she said.