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Good As Gold

Featured Photo from Good As Gold

Cross-country gold, a Girl Scout Gold Award... Longwood’s Megan Rhodes shines bright in our community

Megan Rhodes of Longwood is decorating her senior year with some bling – a varsity pin for cross-country and a Gold Award for Girl Scouts. 

The 17-year-old senior at Lyman High School just completed her most medaled season, as she calls it, on the cross-country team.

“This year I medaled at every race except one, and I went to state this year,” Megan says.

She has been running since the third grade, and the one- and two-mile events are Megan’s favorites. She recently added another shiny varsity pin to her Lyman High varsity letter, the fourth she’s received in four years.

“You get a pin based on the amount of points you score each year,” Megan says. “I’ve gotten my varsity pin every year.”
Her commitment extends past the track and into the community, where Megan has served as a Girl Scout for a dozen years.

“I started in kindergarten, or pre-K, I can’t remember,” she says, with her mom serving as troop leader for most of those years.
Megan started off as a Daisy for a year or so, then a Brownie (for three years), a Junior (two years), a Cadette (three years), then a Senior (during her freshman and sophomore years of high school), and finally an Ambassador (for her junior and senior years).

Now she’s going for the gold. Megan has been working hard to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, an honor she hopes to achieve in the next few months after years of careful planning. Akin to the Eagle Scout medal for Boy Scouts, the Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout can achieve. Earning the Gold Award honors a Scout’s commitment to her troop and the community. The Gold Award requires the completion of a community service project, fundraising, and a minimum of 80 service hours. Only five percent of all Girl Scouts earn the award.

“You have to find a problem in the community, think of a solution for it, and carry it out,” explains Megan. “It takes a lot of communication skills and problem-solving skills.”

Narrowing down an idea for her project was tough, she says.

“It was really hard for me to come up with an idea – that was the toughest part,” says Megan. “I’ve been thinking about it since freshman year.”

In May 2019, she submitted her final proposal for review – a plan to help encourage recycling efforts at Kelly Park in Apopka. The plan was carefully reviewed before Megan was given approval to begin the project.

“I camp with my family a lot at Rock Springs and Wekiwa Springs, and I noticed that the Kelly Springs campground didn’t have a recycling bin in the campground, so I want to put one there,” Megan says.

She reached out to the recreation specialist at the park and discussed the project. The park had tried recycling before, but it wasn’t successful due in part to unclear labeling of its recycling containers.

“This recycling bin is going to be blue,” explains Megan. “It’s going to be pretty obvious that it’s for recycling only. It will be labeled as mixed recycling, and it has images of what items can go in it.”

The special bin, which will be built and shipped from California, is also bear-resistant – and quite pricey. 

Megan is currently raising nearly $1,500 to cover the cost of the bin. She and her fellow Scouts have held car washes and set up gift-wrapping centers during the holidays. Megan is also selling cookies and fall products to earn some of the funds. The other Scouts in her troop work collectively on fundraising, and Megan plans to return the favor.

“Right now, we have two other girls in our troop who will start their Gold Award projects soon, and I’m going to help them, as well,” Megan says. 

Once the bin arrives, it will be installed near a newly refurbished restroom facility at the park.

“I’ve created a pamphlet about recycling that they can put in their camp office so that campers can learn more about recycling in the park and at home, too,” says Megan. “I’m also giving a presentation sometime after the recycling bin is put in to educate the campers in person. I want to tell them about my project and the benefits of recycling.”

Megan hopes to give the presentation in March and fully complete the project by April so that it meets the deadline for the annual Girl Scout awards banquet, which takes place in May.

“I have until September 30 to finish, but I’d like to finish it before I graduate,” Megan says.

That way, she will receive the Gold Award commemorating her hard work the same month as she receives her                            high-school diploma.

“I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only high-school seniors in my service unit, so a lot of people are really excited to see me going for my Gold Award,” Megan says. “They’ve known me for so long!”

Megan plans to attend Seminole State College in the fall and pursue a teaching degree, and she will serve as her troop’s leader to further support the Girl Scouts and the community.

“I’ll be able to help them based on my experience doing the Gold Award,” Megan says. “I can help them get all their hours and funds, just like they helped me.”

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