Local Youth Volunteers Heading to Shenandoah National Park; Initiative Designed to Increase Exposure to the Outdoors
The launch of a new collaboration between the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) will place three members of the Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine Council (GSACPC) in the spotlight – and on a two-week Conservation Destinations Trip to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
GSUSA and SCA recently announced a two-year effort to expose more girls to the benefits of spending time in nature. As a first step, SCA will lead an all-Girl Scout volunteer trail crew at Shenandoah National Park. Three local Girl Scouts were selected to participate on the crew: Elizabeth Fullerton (Phoenix), Elizabeth Flores (Scottsdale) and Alexis Motko (Page). Additionally, SCA crew leader Gaby Perkins is a Girl Scout, and a Gold Award recipient from the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey.
“Through separate studies, SCA and the Girl Scouts have each identified the transformative impact of immersive, team-based experiences in the outdoors,” states SCA President Jaime Berman Matyas. “By working and exploring in a national park, together we are instilling a constellation of leadership skills that will enhance Scouts’ success in their lives and careers.”
A recent Search Institute study shows SCA’s nature-based experiences foster optimal advancement and continuous growth. GSUSA research notes girls' outdoor experiences are positively linked to challenge seeking, problem solving, and environmental stewardship.
“We are thrilled to have some of our girls participate in the All Girl Crew conservation trip to Shenandoah National Park. It’s a great opportunity for them to experience a very different outdoor environment than what they are accustomed to in Arizona," said Tamara Woodbury, CEO of GSACPC.
The pilot program is funded by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation intended to elevate GSUSA’s current outdoor and conservation activities. In addition to the local girls, members from Girl Scouts of Greater New York, Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan, Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania, plus Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline which is close to Shenandoah, will also be participating in the Shenandoah adventure.
Later this year, SCA interns will help council staff enhance outdoor and conservation activities, as well as organize outdoor service opportunities for family and community members, and assist in increasing girl participation and volunteer confidence in the outdoors.