Girl Scouts – Camping, Cookies…and Bats!

girlOver 100 years ago, Juliette Gordon Low was inspired to create an organization catering to adventurous, caring, and curious girls of the USA. The Girl Scouts of America was born right here in Georgia during the Progressive Era in 1912 with only eighteen members. Today, it has 2.7 million members.

From Daisies to Cadets, girls have been given the chance to express their individuality, and make a difference in their community. The most profound way to help your community in Girl Scouts is to complete the highest award possible, the Gold Award. The Gold Award is the top honor in Girl Scouts, and embodies the essence of Girl Scouting.

BT senior, MacKenzie Kristufek, recently reached that pinnacle of a Gold Award. MacKenzie has been a Girl Scout since second grade, and completing the Gold Award has always been a dream for her. The first step of completing the Gold Award is identifying an issue in one’s community. Two years ago, while doing some research MacKenzie came across a disease that was harming bats. “I randomly clicked on an article I saw about White Nose Syndrome one day, and immediately became intrigued with how much the disease was affecting Georgia bats,” said MacKenzie. “I wanted to do something that could help their population.”

White Nose Syndrome is a fungus that grows in caves and mines, and causes bats to wake up during hibernation, which leads to bats using their stored fat and then starving to death. This syndrome is killing over a million bats every year, inspiring MacKenzie to build safer habitats for bats, and install them at Hyde Farm in East Cobb and Cato Nature Park in Austell. “I know that my efforts resulted in changing the lives of bats in my local community by providing sustainable homes for them,” said MacKenzie.

After installing the bat boxes, MacKenzie spoke to students at Queen of Angels to spread awareness of the White Nose Syndrome, and to teach them why bats are so beneficial to society. “Upon seeing my assembled bat boxes, the children at Queen of Angels got very excited and started talking about how they wanted to make their own bat box,” said MacKenzie.

One of the greatest lessons MacKenzie learned during her two-year project was the importance of organization. “When managing multiple aspects of a project it is critical to be organized and on top of things to make deadlines and provide the people helping you with the information they need to do the job that they were assigned,” said MacKenzie. “This entire project really showed me the difference between managing time wisely and not managing it well.”

The Gold Award, among being the most prestigious award in Girl Scouts, also installs into the Girl Scouts the responsibility to take care of their community. Accomplishing the Gold Award is not simple feat; it requires dedication and a passion for serving others. As Juliette Gordon Low said, “The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.”

Learn about McKenzie’s project…