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Girl Scout Troop Educates about Endangered Species

by Lola Olvera, ENC Communications Intern

Spring Faire Crafts 2What do a green sea turtle, a blue butterfly and San Mateo thorn mint all have in common?

They are all species endangered in California-and that’s no joke.

The green sea turtle is classified as seriously threatened; worldwide its numbers have declined 90% over the past 50 years as they are hunted for meat and eggs and their habitats are threatened. The Mission Blue butterfly has been endangered since 1976 due to dieback of its most common host plant, the Silver Bush Lupine. Road construction, residential development and golf courses have eradicated the habitat of the San Mateo thorn mint-now it can only be found at Edgewood County Park.

Girl Scout Troop 2917 is giving a voice to California’s endangered animals and plants at the Environmental Nature Center’s Spring Faire on May 7. Amidst the faire’s other animal and environment focused attractions, two teams of Girl Scouts will be hosting their own crafts and activity booths dealing with endangered wildlife and habitat conservation.

Teaching others, says troop leader Cynthia Strasmann, “raises awareness and helps promote a change in people’s’ attitudes or knowledge.”

Girl Scouts Shannon Strasmann, Sarah Shellow and Chloe Wong will present the Salt Marsh Birds Beak and San Mateo Thorn Mint plants; Annabella Rivera, Maya Simpson and Pennie Passion will present the Green Sea Turtle and Northern Spotted Owl; Megan McRae, Claire Lewis and Ashley Shellow will present the Wolverine and Blue Butterfly. Their craft booths are the culmination of their journey to earn their Silver Award.

The Girl Scout Silver Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout Cadette can earn and is meant to test a girls’ leadership skills while allowing them to give back to their community. The process includes discovering an important issue in their community, connecting with someone with the resources to help, and then putting their plan into action.

They also learn problem solving, collaboration and organizational skills and develop a fresh commitment to their community.

“Today, we can be overloaded with instant information from global sources,” says Strasmann.

“How we use and formulate this information becomes vitally important in our society. Strong leadership and communication skills are necessary to be able to put forth our ideas and commitments to both our local and global communities.”

The Environmental Nature Center, with its 45 year dedication to environmental education and sustainability, made an effortless partner. Girl Scouts are not new visitors to the center-over the years the ENC has helped scouts earn their Bronze, Silver and even Gold awards at the Spring Faire.

Fittingly, Girl Scout founder, Juliette Gordon Low, “was a famous lover of nature,” Strasmann says. “We honor her legacy by promoting respect and love of the great outdoors.”

The Girl Scouts will also do their part for sustainability by making their crafts out of primarily recycled materials such as corks, toilet paper rolls, and egg cartons.

“I’m excited that this year the scouts are including an educational component to the crafts,” says ENC Communications Director Lori Whalen, who facilitated the partnership. “Even better, the educational component focuses on California endangered species, which I think get less attention than the big celebrity endangered species, like elephants.”

Strasmann, who has been involved in the Girl Scouting program for over ten years and has led her youngest daughter’s troop for the last six, feels proud of her scouts.

“The teams are positively engaged, respectful and excited to make an impact in their community,” she says. “Witnessing them share ideas, organize their thoughts and put into action their goals is very rewarding. This process will bode them well as they mature into women!”

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