Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Taryn Homier is pictured in the garden she designed and maintained at the Dupont Church of the Brethren this past summer. Taryn’s project,”Growing for Others,” helped reduce hunger in three different counties. (Photo submitted)
Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Taryn Homier is pictured in the garden she designed and maintained at the Dupont Church of the Brethren this past summer. Taryn’s project,”Growing for Others,” helped reduce hunger in three different counties. (Photo submitted)

PUTNAM COUNTY — Three Girl Scouts from Putnam County received the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award from Girl Scouts of Western Ohio in a ceremony held Sunday, March 9, at the University of Dayton.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award that Girl Scouts in grades 9-12 may earn; only six percent of Girl Scouts nationwide earn the award. The efforts put forth express a special commitment by the recipient to herself, her community, and her future. The required steps for this award are chosen to help Scouts develop 21st century skills, practice leadership, explore a need in the community and the world, and learn more about themselves. Each young lady dedicates at least 80 hours to her project over a time span of one to two years.

Two members of Troop 20032 from Fort Jennings, Elaina Maag, and Kristen Maag, earned their Gold Award.

Elaina, a 13-year Girl Scout member, knew there was a need to prepare young girls for babysitting duties. “I had heard horror stories about babysitting,” Elaina related. “My cousin was babysitting, and the child (for whom she was babysitting) began coughing up blood. She didn’t know what to do.” Luckily, the situation turned out for the best, and the child recovered.

In the spring of 2013, Elaina began researching the correct procedures for emergency preparedness and basic first aid. With that information, she put together a babysitting preparedness curriculum designed for young girls and advertised it in the community. A guest speaker, whom Elaina located through a babysitting organization that provides safety courses, delivered the content. Elaina conducted a post-class survey of participants to determine if the girls found the class useful; the response was very positive. She recruited volunteers to film the class and then produced a short video. Elaina presented the video to Fort Jennings High School students, which sparked small group discussions. The video will continue to be a resource tool for schools and community groups. Elaina intends to approach the town council, as well as other Girl Scout troops, to locate future presenters to ensure sustainability of her project.

Elaina currently attends Bowling Green State University, and is majoring in Nursing. In addition to the Gold Award, she also earned the Girl Scout Bronze and Silver Awards.

Kristen Maag, another 13-year Girl Scout member, interviewed community members and learned that classes on the topics of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and first aid were viewed as costly and were not offered locally. She set out to create a course that would be both cost effective and accessible in her small village. Kristen partnered with the American Heart Association, which provided a staff member to serve as the instructor. She set up a local class for a minimal price; 10 people were certified. She recruited volunteers to film the class and then produced a short video. Kristen presented the video to students at Fort Jennings High School. Students approached the school and the American Heart Association about forming a partnership to certify graduating FJHS seniors, which ensured that her project will be sustained in the community.

Kristen is currently attending the Navy Reserve boot camp in Great Lakes, IL. She is also a freshman at The Ohio State University, where she is majoring in Psychology. In addition to the Gold Award, she was a Girl Scout Bronze Award and Silver Award recipient. The third Putnam County Girl Scout to receive the Gold Award was rural Cloverdale resident Taryn Homier. Taryn is an 11-year member of Oakwood Troop 20529, and has previously earned the Girl Scout Bronze and Silver Awards.

Taryn’s project, which she named “Growing for Others,” focused on the hunger crisis in her community. “I always noticed there were a lot of people who didn’t get enough food. Some families in my community do not have the amount of food they need,” said the Wayne Trace sophomore.

After she identified a need for access to fresh produce, Taryn approached her church, the Dupont Church of the Brethren, for space to plant a garden. She designed a vegetable garden and enlisted the help of friends and community members for material and labor. Taryn coordinated volunteers from five different communities, and oversaw the planting, harvesting, and weeding of the garden plot throughout the summer of 2013. All the crops that were harvested were donated to food pantries in Putnam, Paulding, and Defiance Counties, including the Dupont Church of the Brethren, and the Putnam County Thrift Store.

Taryn created a pamphlet about growing produce, which was distributed with vegetable seed packets at food pantries to educate and encourage others to begin gardening. She estimated that all together, she spent 110 hours on her project.

With the help of her church family, Taryn is planning to grow produce again this summer.