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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

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Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
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Ckohlhagen



Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: St. Louis
Posts: 1
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Nineteen years ago, I was born in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, where I’ve lived all my life. St. Louis has some beautiful wooded trails, protected forestry, and clear creeks and is known for pioneering some conservation efforts, but as a whole, our city is very dirty, our air is quite polluted, and the ground is often laden with trash. Despite the polluted conditions and amount of wastefulness found in our big city, my parents raised my sister and me to recycle and reuse everything. In my family, we never threw paper in the trash, we sorted the different kinds of plastics, we rinsed and reused containers year after year, we used cardboard boxes for storing things, we gave used clothes and possessions to GoodWill, and we set the recycling bin out on the street every week. I was raised never to litter, and occasionally, as a child, I would scavenge around my neighborhood with a bag at hand, picking up all the trash off the ground. When my bag was full, I would bring it home and throw away or recycle the contents. Sometimes I turned un-recyclable things into works of art, making little models of animals using discarded pieces of plastic or Styrofoam containers. When I was older, I participated in the Missouri Clean Stream program in which we cleared trash out of local streams and creeks. So, from a young age, I was taught the importance of conserving resources and keeping Earth clean.
I became a Girl Scout at the age of five and loved it so much that I remained in scouts until I graduated high school thirteen years later. My mother was the troop leader for both me and my sister’s troops, and she made sure all the girls learned the value of volunteerism and conservation. My older sister was a thirteen year Girl Scout who earned her Gold Award as a high school senior. When I was in high school, I decided to work towards earning my Girl Scout Gold Award as well. The Gold Award is a rare distinction; it is the highest honor in scouting, which only five percent of Girl Scout Seniors ever receive. Earning the award is challenging and time-consuming as it requires many prerequisites, many accounted hours, prior completion of many badges and awards, and it must meet many requirements set forth by the Council. Over the course of about three years, I designed, got approval for, and completed a project to show my leadership skills while meeting a need in my community.
In high school, I took an AP Environmental Science class, in which I learned a lot about treating our planet with care and “going green.” My family used to bring our batteries to my AP Environmental science teacher, who knew where to take them to be recycled, but by the time I was a student in his class, the site where he brought them would no longer accept alkaline batteries. My family knew it was wrong to just throw batteries away, and I was sure many other families felt the same way, so I decided to do something about this need in my community. For my Apprentice Ecologist and Girl Scout Gold Award project, I decided to take a “green” route by finding out how I could recycle used batteries, educating the public on the environmental harms of throwing away dead batteries, and encouraging the people in my community to bring their used batteries to my collection sites to be recycled.
I had to do a great deal of investigation before I could begin my Apprentice Ecologist and Gold Award project. I researched the differences between types of batteries and read about the harm battery chemicals can do to our groundwater if they leech into the Earth from landfills. I had to obtain permission by the Girl Scout Council to conduct my project, I had to arrange to give seminars to adults and younger Girl Scouts, I had to get younger troops involved as part of leadership requirements, I had to gain consent to put my battery collection boxes at public sites throughout the city, and I had to find a place nearby that would take the batteries that I was collecting. I got in touch with a woman named Kimberlee Riley, who runs programs at the Jefferson National Parks Association in downtown St. Louis, one of the only sites in the country taking alkaline batteries, which they then ship to a recycling center in Wisconsin. She agreed to help me out by spreading the word and taking the batteries that I would collect.
I then outlined how I would manage this project: I would set decorated buckets out at public places, inform people where they could go to get rid of batteries, periodically gather the batteries from all of my sites in the city, sort them into rechargeable; alkaline; or miscellaneous, and tape the ends of each and every one so that they would not be a fire hazard, then I would weigh; record; and deliver the batteries to Kimberlee Riley at the Arch in downtown St. Louis. After I had everything in place, I began conducting presentations for adults and younger Girl Scout troops, telling them about my project and spreading the word on what they could do to help recycle. My goal was that I would collect five-hundred pounds of batteries before I had to leave the state for college. Throughout the course of my project, I involved younger troops (decorating boxes); schools; and adults, spoke at meetings, distributed fliers at my school and in my city, set up numerous collection sites in my community, wrote articles and had them published in the city newspaper, and was interviewed for a Go-Green program on News Channel 4. The interview can be viewed at the following site: http://www.kmov.com/archive/69131942.html, and my project website can be found at http://www.dosomething.org/project/battery-recycling-program. This publicity got the attention of many people in my city, and by the time I left for college, I had collected, sorted, and safety-taped nearly a thousand pounds of batteries! I had surpassed my goal, passed on the program to a freshman Girl Scout Troop, and tied up all the loose ends so that I could finish my part in the project and go to college. In August 2010, I attended the Girl Scout Ceremony where I was given my Gold Award, my thirteen year pin, and recognition as a graduated Girl Scout.
As the summer ended, my thoughts were on my future as I ventured across the county to go to college. Then in September, out of the blue, Kimberlee Riley contacted me to tell me that she had nominated me for an award based on my project and the many philanthropic activities I had done in the past. To my astonishment, she contacted me again the following month to tell me that I had been selected by the committee to receive the award. On November 17th, 2010, I was presented with the National Youth in Philanthropy Award, at the St. Louis Ballpark Hilton, where I stood up as the youngest person in a room of 700 and gave a speech about why service is important to me and why everyone should get involved in bettering their community and our world. After the ceremony, I was approached by many adults, many of whom were adamant philanthropists themselves, who told me they were inspired by my speech and my accomplishments. I was so humbled by their words and by this enormous honor that I felt a great sense of hope for our world, and a great sense of future commitment in doing what I can to change the world. Receiving the Youth in Philanthropy Award has encouraged me to consider majoring in Human and Organizational Development (which prepares students to find innovative solutions to human problems in organizations and communities) and has inspired me to continue in my efforts to conserve our Earth’s beauty.
My Apprentice Ecologist/Girl Scout Gold Award project took a huge amount of time and effort, and I am very proud of the impact it has made on my community. So many people have gotten involved and donated hundreds of pounds of dead batteries to the cause. As a result, many batteries will be prevented from being thrown on the ground or in landfills where they could harm groundwater, plants, and animals. Instead, these batteries will be broken down to reuse the metals and to safely dispose of the chemicals. Now that I am away at college, a younger Girl Scout troop is managing and expanding the project so that they can earn their Silver Awards in Girl Scouts. I hope that this program will continue on for many years and encourage people to be less wasteful and to protect Earth’s resources. Meanwhile, I will continue to volunteer in my community and be an active conservationist for the rest of my life.
· Date: December 29, 2010 · Views: 5101 · File size: 13.0kb, 79.4kb · : 480 x 640 ·
Hours Volunteered: 200
Volunteers: 8
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19 & 19 to 55
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 454.5
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