Nicole Hoeck (student), Baltimore County, Girl Scouts, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, 410-592-6016
I planted a BayScape garden, which is an environmentally friendly landscape utilizing carefully chosen flowering and fruit bearing plants to provide food and shelter to the wildlife, and beauty for the community. Most importantly, since pesticide free, there are no run-off hazards to the environment, wildlife, or bay.
Best Practice 1: What recognized community need was met by your project (e.g. health, education, environmental or public safety need)?
Our bay is in serious trouble with the high levels of pollutants that enter it everyday. The communities surrounding the bay, the marine-life, and people that make a living from the bay will be greatly affected if the bay water keeps deteriorating. We all need to do our part if we are going to protect this most precious natural resource.
I spend my summers living by the bay and enjoying the many wonderful activities the bay can provide. I have seen the water in different parts of the bay appear darker and more polluted then others. I have seen the trash wash up on beaches. I have researched the progress that has been made over the years in reports and know that people can make a difference in what directly and indirectly ends up in our bay water. Our generation needs to make an impact on bay preservation practices so that the bay will be safe enough for the many generations ahead to enjoy.
Millions of people were helped by my project. The bay touches so many lives; since it empties into the ocean, the bay contributes to the water condition worldwide. People that enjoy bay recreational activities, as well as those that make a living from various functions on the bay, will greatly benefit from a more clean and safe bay. The food that is generated from the bay will be safer to eat, and reproduce faster in cleaner water. In addition, the fruits and berries on the plants will provide food for the wildlife; the shrubs and trees will provide a home and shelter for the wildlife; and since the garden is pesticide free, a safer environment will result.
Best Practice 2: How was the project connected to school curriculum (e.g. what course outcomes were met and/or how did the project reinforce or enhance student academic learning)?
This project was not connected to school; however, it enhanced my academic leaning in many ways. I wrote many letters to county councilmen requesting a public location for my garden. I contacted the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and requested literature for project ideas. I researched the information in order to choose the garden. I researched and determined that the garden was located in the Piedmont growing region, in dry soil and in direct/full sun exposure. I contacted native plant nurseries and asked for help with design ideas and carefully selected the plants that would survive best in my garden, considering size, blooming periods, color, and what fruits and berries would be the best for the immediate environment. I contacted the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to apply for, and was awarded, a $1222 grant for my project. I had to measure, calculate, and purchase the fencing materials, mulch, plants, and stepping-stones utilized in the garden. I designed and ordered a sign for my garden. I had to contact friends and family to coordinate the installation of the garden. And finally, when the garden was completed, I had to keep records of my purchases and submit a final report for the grant to be issued. My project is on going in that I speak at Girl Scout troop meetings in my area to educate them about the importance of bay safe practices, and to encourage them to contact the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay to learn about other projects that they can choose for their awards. I have also attended Chick-Fil-A family nights to promote the awareness of day-to-day practices families can adopt to improve our bay, read stories about the Chesapeake Bay with the children, and have told them about the project I completed.
Best Practice 3: How did you reflect on your experience throughout the project?
I was very proud of my decision when I chose a project that would help our bay, community, and environment. I have completed many activities as a Girl Scout while earning my bronze, silver, and gold awards, many of which have helped children in battered women’s shelters, animals at the local animal shelter, and senior citizens at the assisted living home, and many others; however, the number of people potentially affected by my BayScape Garden project is endless. My garden’s on-going possibilities, and the impact on the environment, make this the most rewarding of my experiences. Of the many projects I have performed, this was the most complicated, and required the most dedication. During the early stages, I was almost forced to choose another project. It became a huge ordeal to determine the site for my garden. Since it was in a public area, the county council had to approve the location. And, since it was an election year, there was a lot of red tape regarding campaign contributions and favors. My garden location was changed to a site that did not require county approval and then things ran more smoothly.
Best Practice 4: How did students take leadership roles and take responsibility for the success of the project?
I completed this project to earn my Gold Award and chose to do my project on an individual basis. I took the leadership role in every aspect from choosing my project, designing and implementing all the steps needed to organize installation and completion of my garden, and for gathering volunteers. I applied for a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, contacted local native plant nurseries for design ideas, and solicited help in the garden installation. I designed, ordered and got help to install the entry sign. I continue my leadership role with the promotion of bay safe practices to other Girl Scout troops and Chick-Fil-A family night events.
Best Practice 5: What community partners did you work with on this project (e.g. non-profits, civic organizations, business that provided donations, etc.)?
The community partners I worked with on this project were the following:
- The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay gave me many ideas for the project, as well as informed me about the grant money.
- The Chesapeake Bay Foundation informed me of what kind of project would qualify for the grant money and taught me how to apply for it.
- Other Girl Scout troops and Chick-Fil-A allowed me the time to speak about my project and educate others on the need for a cleaner bay and spread the awareness of bay friendly projects they can do on a day-to-day basis to improve the bay’s condition.
Best Practice 6: How did you prepare and plan ahead for the project?
Knowing that I wanted to complete my gold award, I had to perform many other volunteer activities to be eligible to apply to The Central Council for Girl Scouts for my gold award project. A gold award project application, which is a very in depth questionnaire, must be submitted for approval before beginning any work. The required information included on the application are such things as: where the garden would be located; prices for the plants, stepping stones, mulch, fencing, sign, tiller rental, etc.; any funding necessary to complete my project including my grant possibility; who would benefit from my activity; how was it going to be a leadership activity; and how the project would be on-going. Then it was submitted for approval. Once approved, work could begin.
Best Practice 7: What knowledge and skills did students develop through this project?
I learned so much from this project, more then I can put on paper. By researching the condition of the bay through contacting the various organizations and by scanning the Internet, I improved my investigative skills. I developed my writing skills, phone calling skills, and my leadership skills through completing this project. My public speaking skills and self-confidence improved when I addressed other Girl Scout troops and spoke at Chick-Fil-A family nights. I gained a great deal of knowledge about the bay, how and what pollutants affect the bay, and their origins. I learned how and what can improve the bay’s condition and what little things people can do to impact change. I learned how to calculate the amount of mulch and plants necessary to complete my garden, to complete a list of all items and prices, and to apply for a grant. I learned how to determine our growing region, and lots of information about individual plants and shrubs, and about native plant nurseries. I learned about the different growing seasons, what berry and fruit bearing plants and shrubs would provide the most benefit to the wildlife, and which plants would survive best in a pesticide free environment.