Cary, NC – Barely 5 percent of all Girl Scouts of America ever receive the organization’s highest achievement, the Gold Award. But one Cary resident recently reached that high point with her project to rejuvenate bee populations in the area.
Leading Cause for Pollinators
Olivia Loyack, a student at Cary High School, received the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award for her project, The Plight of the Honey Bee. Since the 1950s, the number of bee colonies worldwide has been reduced by more than half and Loyack had the idea to work on pollinator-friendly gardens to help struggling bees around town.
“That seems like something everyone can do,” Loyack said, adding that she had already created and maintained gardens of her own at her house and at her church.
Loyack got in contact with other groups around Cary that work to create pollinator gardens for ideas and advice.
“A lot of organizations are creating pollinator gardens around Cary, doing things such as putting bee-friendly flowers on medians in roads,” Loyack said.
To earn the Gold Award, Girl Scouts have to take a leadership role in the project so Loyack branched off and got her community members working on a pollinator garden at her church, where she also gave talks on the importance of creating habitats for bees.
“It had a lot to do with education and maintenance,” she said. “There’s a lot of simple things people can do to help.”
In addition to creating pollinator gardens at her church and home, Loyack also helped work on the pollinator garden at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center.
Getting the Gold Award
As the highest award in the Girl Scouts, Loyack said receiving the Gold Award is a big deal to her.
“It means I’ve done something few others have done,” she said. “I’d be plying if I said I didn’t cry when I got it.”
Loyack, who has been in the Girl Scouts since 2007, said getting the award has given her the opportunity to go around and talk with other Girl Scouts and even mentor younger members.
“It makes me feel like a leader,” she said.
And Lisa Jones, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines, agreed with Loyack’s assessment.
“Through her project, Olivia has demonstrated she possesses the proven qualities of a community leader and the Girl Scout Gold Award designation is truly a remarkable achievement,” Jones said. “She recognized a need in her community and took action to create a sustainable response.”
For anyone, Girl Scout or not, looking to create their own community projects, Loyack advised finding other groups that do similar work and learning from them or partnering up.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Michael Papich and Ashley Winton.