Life is full of adventure for Girl Scout Daisy Ellie Boyd. Whether she’s dreaming up a new toy to earn her Engineering badge, learning about bravery as she climbs a rock wall, or helping to plant a garden, she is on the go and having fun with her sister Girl Scouts. Ellie is homeschooled, and this summer she met up with a few other Girl Scouts who are also homeschoolers—Junior Julianne Snow and Brownie Hannah Snow—to explore the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Their goal was to complete activities to help each other earn the Girl Scout Climate Challenge patch. Made possible by Johnson & Johnson Foundation, the Climate Challenge invites both Girl Scouts and non-Girl Scouts to learn about climate science, connect with their communities, and share hope to create change. The special patch program runs through November 30, 2022. Girls must complete ten activities from an activity guide that can be downloaded from the Girl Scouts of the USA website. Additional activities can also be found at SciStarter.com, a citizen science website.
During Ellie’s visit, she explored the biodiversity at the Botanical Garden, learned how trees and climate are connected, and got a better understanding about the impact of climate change on bees and other pollinators such as butterflies; the tour through the Butterfly Pavilion was one of her favorite stops. There, a summer intern, Callie Kipper, explained the life cycle of butterflies and some of the issues they face today.
“Like most butterflies, monarchs are highly sensitive to weather and climate,” Callie said. “They depend on environmental cues like temperature to trigger reproduction, migration, and hibernation. Scientists think climate change may impact them and they also are concerned about the growth of their milkweed habitat.”
Kelly Welsh, Director of Marketing and Communications who helped host the tour, offered further explanation on the subject. “Habitat restoration can be key to halting the monarch population’s decline so we need to encourage more people to plant milkweed and to use less pesticides that can damage butterflies and plants. One of our goals here is to give you an opportunity to interact with nature while learning what you can do to make our environments great places to live.”
Then it was off to tour the Education Building where they learned about Earth’s atmosphere and the greenhouse effect from Addie Roark, a member from the Botanical Garden’s marketing team. “When it gets very hot, water evaporates into the air and it creates a kind of greenhouse. A greenhouse keeps the plants inside warm even when it’s cold outside because it traps heat from the sun. The Earth’s atmosphere acts like a greenhouse. When light from the sun passes through the atmosphere, some of it is absorbed by the Earth’s surface to heat it, but some heat is also trapped in our atmosphere by certain gases, like CO2.. Some plants absorb this gas but they can’t absorb it all, so our goal is to find ways to stop producing this gas and slow down climate change.”
After more discussion, a few games and examining some exhibits, the group continued their tour of the Botanical Garden and strolled through paths that led to magical places like the friendship bridge. There was also a stop to look at animal sculptures where each girl picked her favorite—a required activity to earn GSCCC’s Explore Norfolk Botanical Garden patch! The Botanical Garden is a fun visit for anyone but especially for Girl Scouts who want to learn more about nature. (Be sure to do some homework ahead of time, so you know which activities to do to meet badge or patch requirements.)
During your visit, check out “WOW”—World of Wonders: A Children’s Adventure Garden. This three-acre garden is filled with magical things for kids to do: child-sized buildings and activities, climbing, splash fountains, thematic gardens and biomes related to different parts of the world including the Australian Outback, a Rainforest, and an African Savanna. Daily activities include guided and self-guided discovery stations, scavenger hunts, crafts, and walking tours.
Learn about the Girl Scout Climate Challenge and begin to take action. Activity guides are available for each grade level online.
Community troops enjoyed a full day of arts and crafts and outdoor fun at camp!
Girl Scouts spent a day with the Blazing Blue Herons canoe team at Burke’s Mill.