I am my own seed

15 year old Lauren Almalvez of Girl Scouts of the USA shares the story behind her environmental project "Ecojunkie Toolbox"

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Lauren hosting an outreach table using the Ecojunkie Toolbox at the Treepeople restoration site

My love for the environment is like a seed. Girl Scouting nourished me with rich experiences. I jumped at the chance to earn the Naturalist badge when I joined Girl Scouts of the USA as a Cadette. I became active with an environmental organization called TreePeople as I worked on more badges. These experiences enabled me to branch out and pursue a Girl Scout Gold Award project on motivating people to plant trees and care for the environment.

I love talking about environmental stewardship and motivating people to take action for the environment. I was delighted to participate in outreach volunteering at an environmental education fair in March 2019. I handed out flyers to people and promoted the various programs that TreePeople has to offer. It was not easy to start a conversation using flyers. I observed that the exhibitors with more than just flyers on display got more foot traffic at their tables, and I knew that I needed to find another way to share my knowledge and experiences.

So, after more volunteering, I proposed a project with TreePeople. The idea evolved as I brainstormed with my advisor and the “Ecojunkie Toolbox” project was conceptualized in February 2020. I created three outreach tools in shoebox sizes, each with different themes around the organization’s mission and programs.

Despite the challenges in coordinating the project activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I worked with many individuals at TreePeople. I met with the Youth Outreach Coordinator and the Senior Manager of Educational Tours. I presented to the community organizers for a trial run. I analyzed their various suggestions and developed a unified theme for each toolbox.

In May 2021, I did outreach with the Restoration Program Manager at a reforestation site in the Angeles National Forest. For the first time, I used the Ecojunkie Toolbox to talk with hikers, campers, and cyclists, all in-person. The outreach tools made it easy for me to start the conversation and to encourage others to take action.

I provided Ecojunkie Toolbox outreach tools to TreePeople for continued use. I also shared my Girl Scout Gold Award project through online presentations at the Valley Plaza Branch Public Library Teen Council and at a US Forest Service Generation Green meeting.

I feel accomplished after my Gold Award project. I was able to use my creativity and love for the environment to lead a project that helps my community. I hope to further spread environmental awareness and empower everyone I meet to take action for the environment. I am like a seed that has grown to bear fruit.

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