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Messy Room, Clean Environment

By: Gayatri, member of Girl Scout Press Corps

The sun is streaming through the curtains in Katherine room, tinting the whole room shades of green and purple. It’s cluttered, just like most other teenagers’, and when she sees me, she smiles apologetically and says, “It’s kind of messy.”

I say, “Oh no, that’s fine. I don’t mind.” She’s sitting on her bed cross-legged, so I pull up a chair.

I’m here to talk to her about her Gold Award. Only a few Girl Scouts complete it each year, and last year, Katherine was one of them. It’s no small feat, and when I ask her about it, I can see her face light up.

Kate Galko_2019-2020 Gold Award Social Media

“I went to San Marcos,” she says, “and I saw a lot of students using plastic glitter in their graduation photos.”

Her expression tells me that this is a bad thing.

“San Marcos is right next to the Edwards Aquifer which is home to a lot of endangered species.” She goes on to talk about how the plastic travels through the watersheds and ends up in the ocean where it negatively impacts ecosystems, punctuating some of her more passionate remarks with a shake of her head.

She continues, “I decided that I wanted to educate college students about the problems they were causing. So I reached out to the Meadow Center for Water and the Environment and asked them if they would be willing to show a video about the issue.”

But she didn’t just make her video about the negative effects of plastic glitter. “I was also invited to speak at a youth panel for the San Marcos River Guardianship.” Not only did Katherine speak there, but she also passed out around 200 bags of eco-friendly glitter. “A lot of eco-friendly glitter is really expensive,” she says, “so I found and tested the best inexpensive options.”

Her inspiration for the project was her passion for the environment. Passion is also her advice for other Girl Scouts looking to complete their Gold Award. “Find something you’re passionate about and most people will want to help you,” she says. That’s not the only advice she has. “If you don’t know a skill that you want to use for a project, just learn how. You don’t need to be an expert on it.”

“Girl Scouts really empowers girls to take action,” she adds.

And Katherine really has taken action. Through her years as a Girl Scout, she’s gone from a girl with a messy room to a teenager taking the initiative to clean up the environment.

Katherine will be presenting her project at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Congress in France this June.

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