Harrison William Woods in Bayville is a much pleasanter place to visit, due to the efforts of three Girl Scouts. After completing their Silver Award project, the trails are clear, there are new benches as well as more trail signs. Oyster Bay Girl Scouts from Troop 211, Molly Bowden, Clementine Edwins and Abigail Maselli, were also able to recruit others to help.
“We all own dogs and sometimes walk them through Harrison Williams Woods and noticed how the trails weren’t very clear and there was a lot of trash,” Abigail said. “We also noticed that the map of the woods was very outdated, and that kind of sparked the idea for our Silver Award project.”
Harrison Williams Woods is a 0.6 mile lightly-trafficked loop trail in Bayville, primarily used for hiking, running and nature trips. The scouts met at the woods several times over the summer with friends to help clean up garbage and leaves on the trails. They also noticed that a bat box that Troop 176 erected for an Eagle project fell down, so they reinstalled it.
“We wanted to make it a more inviting environment, because many people in our town don’t utilize the woods,” Molly said. “We also think caring for the environment is super important, not only making it a positive space for people but also the animals living there.”
A Silver Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Scouts must complete 50 hours of a community service project that goes beyond typical types of service. The project must tackle an issue in the community where the scouts “take action” and they need to be able to make a difference and educate others.
“I was so impressed with the girls and their project; they really took the initiative and contacted the mayor, organized the cleanup and only relied on adults for feedback and mild support,” Stacey Bowden, Molly’s mother, said. “This was a really impressive project to take on for middle school students. Having worked with my older son working on his eagle scout project, I was really proud of the girls.”
The Bayville girls, all 14, each took on a leadership role in the project, with an overarching goal of informing the community of this resource. Abigail focused on researching the history of the woods to educate people on its origins and Molly centered her work on educating people about the concept to “leave no trace” and to care for the environment. Clementine is educating people on wayfinding, by mapping the trails and putting the map on the AllTrails app. The scouts also created a QR-code visitors can scan at the entrance to see the map on their phone. The history of the woods is now displayed on the entrance board.
“They bought all the supplies, painted the signs themselves and sprayed them with a protective coating [and] they worked together with a screw gun to attach the signs to stakes,” Jennifer Maselli, Abigail’s mother, said. “They have a really cute “leave no trace” sign at the entrance too.”
The troop also plan to install a bench in the woods.
“They have all put in a lot of work, have had to brainstorm and discuss to get to the project as it now stands,” Kristin Herron, co-leader of Troop 211 said. “As they wrap up their Silver Award, my co-leader Dianne Russo and I see how much they have grown and blossomed and we are so proud of them.”
“It was a lot of work, needing a minimum of 50 hours for your project to even qualify for Silver, however it all paid off in the end,” Abigail said. “It was really great being able to work with my friends towards something that bettered the community and also the Earth. I found it very entertaining to see how the history of Bayville as a town wraps into Harrison Williams Woods. I think the main thing I’m feeling right now though is satisfaction.”