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Woodbury eighth graders Haley Drost, Molly Kammann, Rachel Dorst and Kiley Robertson are in the process of completing their Silver Award project through Girl Scouts. The project consisted of building handicap accessible planter boxes at Our Community Garden, located at Ascension Church in Stillwater. Submitted photo.

Girl Scouts' project no cookie-cutter task

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life Woodbury, 55125
Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

Cookies, camping and camaraderie are all hallmarks of Girl Scouting, but that's not all.

Four Woodbury eighth graders have proven there is a lot more work that goes into Girl Scouts than meets the eye.

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Lake Middle School students Haley Dorst, Rachel Dorst and Kiley Robertson, and Math and Science Academy student Molly Kammann are currently in the process of completing their Silver Award project.

"Over the years our troop members have dropped like flies because of the amount of work involved," Haley Dorst said.

The Girl Scouts Silver Award is the second-highest award in Girl Scouts. The Silver Award requires Girl Scouts to spend 50 hours or more leading and completing a large service project that demonstrates their leadership skills and educates others. The project must also be sustainable over time.

For their project, the Woodbury girls built a handicap-accessible garden at Our Community Garden, a garden that provides opportunities for community members to garden in addition to hosting weekly community breakfasts made out of the produce grown in the gardens.

Our Community Garden is located at Ascension Church in Stillwater.

"We thought we could help out the community in two ways," Kammann said. "We thought it could help make the community nicer and in this case it could help make food for the community."

From planting to building

When the four girls first started brainstorming possible Silver Award projects, they thought of planting some sort of flowers in the courtyard at Lake Middle School.

However, since that didn't work out, they decided to approach Our Community Garden.

What started out as a simple planting project quickly turned into a building project since the organization was in need of handicap-accessible planter boxes.

"Sometimes they host activities for kids with disabilities to help garden, plant, harvest and cook with them," Kammann said.

"But, they were running into a problem with the teenagers who had wheelchairs," Rachel Dorst said. "It completely changed our project. We went from planting seeds in little pots to building an entire box."

In order to be handicap accessible, the planter boxes had to be L-shaped and the girls had to install pavers leading up to the boxes so wheelchairs could access the boxes.

In addition to building the boxes and installing the planters, the Girl Scouts also planted a number of herbs and vegetables including cilantro, basil, peppers and lettuce.

Haley and Rachel Dorst said the biggest challenges they faced during their project involved learning new skills.

"It was a lot of work to learn how to measure stuff," Haley Dorst said.

"We had to learn how to use power tools," Rachel Dorst said.

Kammann said the project helped them learn how to plan and organize better.

A second component of the Silver Award project was that the Girl Scouts worked with Valley Friendship Club, an organization that helps children with disabilities make new friends and provide gardening opportunities at Our Community Garden.

"We thought it would be another way for our project to help the community," Kammann said.

"The big objective of our project was to beautify a public place while helping children with socialization," Rachel Dorst said.

Kammann said her favorite part of the project was seeing the final product.

This isn't the end of the Girl Scouts for the four eighth graders though. The next task will be the Gold Award project, which requires 80 hours of work and once again must be sustainable.

"Knowing that we have to do this 'little' project before the big project is kind of daunting," Rachel Dorst said.

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