Girl Scouts clean up Midwest communities

Girl Scouts clean up Midwest communities
A total of 25,000 volunteers and girls between the ages of five and 18 raked leaves from storm drains during the Girl Scouts Centennial Day of Service. (Photos courtesy of Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys)

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Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys recently participated in the Centennial Day of Service. The one-day event is designed to remove 20,000 pounds of phosphorus, prevent 10 million pounds of algae growth and save $6 million in cleanup costs for local communities. This year marks the 100th anniversary for Girl Scouts.

“Girl Scouts have always been interested in the outdoors and stewardship,” says Sara Danzinger, River Valleys public relations manager. “We have found that our girls have really taken to heart that the environment matters. They see that this is their future.”

A total of 25,000 volunteers and girls between the ages of five and 18 raked leaves from storm drains, distributed 50,000 educational door hangers, and marked storm drains with an “Only Rain Down the Storm Drain” message to raise awareness and share a message about improving water quality. 

Municipal employees worked with the Girl Scouts and provided supplies. “Many communities coordinated with public works employees that guided us to the areas that need the most attention,” says Danzinger. “They drove girls to the locations and let them know in which neighborhoods to raise awareness. It was definitely a joint effort between the local communities and us.”

There are 112 Girl Scouts councils in the United States, and the River Valleys council is the eighth largest. During the one-day event, they gave a total of 62,500 service hours throughout 170 communities. 

As part of the Centennial Day of Service patch, girls were required to complete the water quality pledge, which included participating in an hour of water quality activities. Activities included mixing liquids together to see different densities, experimenting with oil spills, and playing water jeopardy to test water knowledge.

The annual cleanup helps communities keep streets and parks free of storm drain debris, and Girl Scouts get a chance to learn about the environment.

“This is the earth that they are going to inherit,” says Danzinger. “They are taking ownership of that right now and want to make an impact for themselves in the future and for the future generations of their families and Girl Scouts.

“We know with our interest indicators that the environment and the planet are always at the top of their list. Even if they don’t go into environmental careers, we know that just like any of us, they can take small steps in their daily lives that make a big impact.”


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