In 2018 Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida’s outdoor team initiated a council-wide service project called “Earth Defenders”. The rules were simple, during the month of October gather with your troop and complete a service project that effects our planet in a positive way. But what does that really mean? Girl Scouts took on the challenge with open arms and we received stories of troops doing everything from a simple beach clean ups to starting recycling programs in their schools. The project was such a success that our council has agreed to keep the initiative running through 2021!
What does it mean to be an Earth Defender?
You don’t need to have super-powers to be an Earth Defender, just a passion for our planet and a willingness to get out there and take action! Girl Scouts have advocated for nature since the organization was founded in 1912 and every Girl Scout agrees through the Girl Scout Promise and Law that they will do their best to “use resources wisely” and to “make the world a better place”. As an Earth Defender our girls are taking that vow to the next level – not only are they tasked with using resources wisely, but to help others do it as well, in order to make an impact. To be an Earth Defender is to stand up for what is right and to give our planet a voice by speaking up in your community.
How can I help our planet?
- Give a voice to endangered animals and wildlife conservation
- Create and/or maintain community gardens
- Land stewardship and local clean-ups
- Reduce plastic use
- Initiate or participate in a recycling program
- Start an activism campaign
- Research and remove invasive plants
- Work with local organizations and help with their mission
Lake Ute Preservation – Indian Treasure Service Unit
For Earth Defenders 2018 a group of Girl Scouts from the Indian Treasure Service Unit banded together to clean up an overgrown spring-fed lake at their local camp.
The girls noticed that some of the wildlife was dying off and relocating due to the waterway being being clogged up, so they decided to take-action and clear the area to allow the natural flow of water again.
All seventeen girls who participated are huge advocates for wildlife and nature and once they noticed that there were less fish and turtles in the area, they decided to speak with the local ranger about projects they could do to help. In the short-term this project allowed more water to flow due to the clearing of cattails, filling up the lake with fresh water. In the long-term, their actions will allow for the return of wildlife to this safe and clean habitat.
Removing Invasive Plants at Long Key Nature Center – Sunny River Service Unit
Girl Scouts from multi-level Troop 10197 decided to become Earth Defenders in 2018 to help stop the spread of invasive vines found everywhere in their local forest. Removing these vines from the trees will help them grow stronger and help the animals that live in these woods including hawks, foxes and armadillo. The girls spent several hours pulling down vines around the park, ensuring that it will look beautiful and healthy in the short-term and allowing animals who forage in these woods to thrive in the long-term.
Beach and Waterway Cleanup – Atikah Service Unit
Junior Troop 10707 decided enough is enough and took a weekend last October to clean up the beaches and waterways in Hollywood, Florida. On Saturday the Girl Scouts spent hours armed with gloves and garbage bags, walking the beach to pick up trash. They gathered items like plastic straws and cutlery, cigarettes, Styrofoam cups and even a glass screen protector. These Earth Defenders took it one step further by boarding kayaks and heading out into the intracoastal waterway in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. They managed to pick up a variety of debris out of the water including plastics and Styrofoam!
The girls decided to host this weekend clean-up because as a troop they wanted to do something that would help their community, environment, and earth.
By completing their project, the girls have made their beaches and waterway safer for both the beach-goers and the animals who live there.