After the Fourth of July weekend, girls from across America came to the Smokies to learn and work and improve what they found.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently benefited from the hard work of eight Girl Scouts who completed 80 hours of service in the park to rehabilitate trails, clean campgrounds, remove invasive plant species and provide educational programs to visitors.
The high school girls came from across the country to participate in a “unique service opportunity” offered through the Student Conservation Association and the Girl Scouts of America, the park said in a news release Thursday.
“This collaboration between the Student Conservation Association, the Girl Scouts of America and the National Park Service has given these young women the opportunity to live and work in an incredible park like the Smokies while exploring career opportunities in conservation and park management,” Sarah Long, crew leader from the Seattle area, said in the GSMNP statement.
The program, titled “Girl Scouts of America Destination Project,” provided an opportunity to both perform hands-on conservation work and to learn about career opportunities with the National Park Service.
The all-girl crew worked alongside women leaders throughout the experience who taught them how to operate equipment and use hand tools to accomplish arduous work in the backcountry.
“I met so many strong women in the Park Service on this trip. They inspired me to be strong and confident in a male-dominated position. Thank you Smokies. This is a trip I’ll never forget,” said Michigan Girl Scout Noelle Myshock.
The crew performed critical cleanup work at one of the busiest campgrounds in the park following the July 4 weekend.
They also rehabbed the trail surface and cut back brush along Trillium Gap and Kanati Fork trails to improve conditions for hikers.
“This trip has made me realize that all the park workers and volunteers work so hard to keep the Smokies fabulous,” said Pennsylvania Girl Scout Lizzy Fischer.
In an effort to restore one of the most unique high-elevation meadows in the park, the crew removed invasive plant species at Purchase Knob in North Carolina.
They also had the opportunity to share their experience with visitors at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, where they provided general park information and education about park resources to hundreds of people.
“The experience we all were given in the Smokies will definitely be one to remember. Not only did we form deep connections with each other but we also connected with our earth; all wonderful things that came from this laughter-filled trip,” said Ohio Girl Scout Grace Klima.
For more information about this program with the Student Conservation Association, visit www.thesca.org/connect/blog/sca-girl-scouts-double-down-outdoors.