Peoria Girl Scout Charlie Unsworth has been awarded the prestigious Gold Award for educating younger generations in her community about gardening, cultivating produce and STEM.
“I figured since I grew up having a garden in my back yard and a garden at my school, wouldn’t it be amazing to put in something that would achieve interest in both gardening and STEM for children,” Charlie said.
The Gold Award is the most difficult prize to earn in Girl Scouts. It is only awarded to Girl Scouts in grades 9 to 12 who take action in their community to tackle an issue that they are passionate about and develop sustainable solutions to local, national and global challenges. This year, 19 Girl Scouts from Arizona received their Gold Award.
With this, girls can take advantage of unique scholarship opportunities, be entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade when they join the military, and distinguish themselves among the competition in the college admissions process and when entering the workforce.
“The thought about getting my Gold Award has kept me in Girl Scouts all these years,” Charlie said.
“It’s such a huge thing and I’ve always wanted to get it, especially when I was a Daisy and heard that my mom did it. I wanted to be just like her.”
Charlie, who has been a Girl Scout for 13 years, is a senior at Ironwood High School and has been accepted to NAU. The Gold Award experience helped the Girl Scout develop time management skills and realize she wants to pursue a career in education. She plans in majoring in history and minoring in secondary education in hopes of becoming a history teacher.
Since she was 5, the future Lumberjack has gardened and grown produce, which made her understand the countless benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. For her project, she wanted to share this knowledge as well as cutting-edge skills for cultivating produce. She blends this with her interest in STEM to teach the next generation about the hydroponic gardening systems she set up at Lookout Mountain and Roadrunner elementary schools.
“I’ve always loved gardening and I’ve always had an interest in STEM, and when I found out about hydroponics, it was two of my biggest interests put together,” Charlie said.
She began planning her project her sophomore year. Charlie received support from the school district, which paid for her project’s hydroponic kit. As a component of their STEM studies, the students enjoyed watching the plants grow and eagerly anticipated eating the produce, Charlie said.
She faced a major challenge when the COVID-19 pandemic hit because school closures have halted the use and harvest of her project. Although she has not been able to get back to the project, she has kept in contact with the schools, who have reported that they plan on using the project once children return to school.
“It took so much time planning my project, but I am so happy for the way it turned out,” Charlie said.
Girl Scouts helps young women grow courageous and strong through girl-driven programs, ranging from summer camp to troop activities and product sales. To protect the health and safety of this year’s recipients, their families, and GSACPC volunteers and staff, the 2021 Gold Award ceremony will be held virtually on Saturday, March 27.