Where I’m from in South Florida and in other urbanized areas, humans affect pollinators through habitat fragmentation, pollution, and a number of other anthropocentric behaviors. Native bees and honeybees, like other pollinators, face the loss of host plants, pesticide contamination, and physical removal. Globally, there is a tendency for humans to destroy bees instead of helping them find a new home.
I wanted my Gold Award project to restore the balance between the public and pollinators in Miami-Dade County, specifically with elementary school-age students and bees. At a local level, I knew it was our responsibility to create safe havens for pollinators. Our backyards and elementary schools seemed like a good place to start. My project would not only raise awareness and teach kids why bees are critical and necessary to our everyday lives but would also inform kids on how they could effect change.
From the start, I was comfortable leading a team because of my experience with Girl Scouts. I may not have been the expert at the table, but I knew I could rally talent and give direction, reflect, reset, and help others do the same.
Our efforts came together for Latino Conservation Week through the “Pollinator Take Over.” We spent five days teaching kids about pollinators on social media. We did question-and-answer sessions with experts where an average of 10 to 15 people logged on live per session. We hosted virtual workshops on Zoom where kids did hands-on activities to learn about pollinators.
There were some obstacles along the way. Translating everything into Spanish for Latino Conservation Week wasn’t easy. But with the help of my advisor (and Google), we got it done. Originally, I wanted to create a comprehensive, in-person interactive experience. Then COVID-19 put a roadblock in front of those plans. We changed up the in-person materials so they could be done at home and hosted virtual workshops instead.
What was at first a setback became a positive. Through the power of social media, I was able to reach a larger audience than I would have otherwise. On top of this, we are in contact with Deering Estate, a historic site and museum in Miami, to expand the program to its camp for kids. We’re also in talks about planting a garden at the Air Force vocational school, which will lay the groundwork for pollinator-friendly gardens.
By earning my Gold Award, I learned that I work well under pressure, and I can adapt to new situations. I learned how to make real connections, even on social media, and how to bring together people who support their communities.
Before my Gold Award, I did not know much about pollinator conservation. Now, my Girl Scout experience has cultivated a sense of wonder and activism: I’m reflecting on how I can help. My next hope is to complete a patch program for Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies. With this program, our mission will continue to flourish in the hands of new girls across the ranks.
Alice wrote and directed a play focused on the mental health issues young people face and earned the Girl Scout Gold Award.
Through the Luke Madrigal Indigenous Storytelling Nonprofit, Gold Award Girl Scout Sophia keeps her father’s spirit and her culture alive.