Scouts for Stewardship

September 1, 2016, Department, by Samantha Bartram

Girl Scout Troop 3475 leads a community cleanup at Beaverdam Reservoir Park in the Brambleton Community in Loudoun County, Virginia.NRPA headquarters is situated in Brambleton Community Park, a 61-acre parcel managed by the Loudoun County, Virginia, Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services. It abuts Beaverdam Reservoir Park, which is comprised of 1,000 acres of woodlands and waterfronts, and managed by Nova Parks. Both spaces offer expanses of green space, forests, streams and wetlands and play host to bountiful populations of birds, wildflowers, insects, reptiles and other creatures native to this part of Northern Virginia. Both also welcome hundreds of visitors each year for hiking, kayaking, canoeing and fishing, and while one hopes each guest would act as a careful steward of public land, sadly, that’s not always the case. Small trash items like bottles and cans, along with more formidable discards like old shoes, rusted bed frames, mattresses and defunct farm equipment, can be found littered about the park and reservoir on a regular basis. It’s no small task to keep these natural spaces safe and beautiful for all visitors, which is why the assistance of local volunteers, like Girl Scout Unit 70-01 and Troop 3475, is so essential. Organized by mom, troop leader and professional photographer Jessica Monte, along with dozens of community leaders, businesses and volunteers, the determined young women of Troop 3475 spearheaded a cleanup of the reservoir and park that netted more than 2 tons of trash. “My daughter’s Girl Scout Troop 3475 is a young troop with lots of energy and excitement about making a positive difference in the world,” Monte says. “Our girls want to be in the outdoors and they understand that nature is a resource that needs to be taken care of. By organizing a project like the cleanup of Beaverdam Reservoir, our girls learned that it is rewarding to work with many hands to accomplish great things. Our girls understood that they were doing something important for their community by simply picking up trash from their park.” Going forward, Girl Scout Unit 70-01— part of the Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital that includes some 90,000 women and girls in the Washington, D.C. metro area — plans to adopt Beaverdam Reservoir through the Adopt-a-Stream Program. “[We hope to] organize additional cleanups of Beaverdam Reservoir and to empower local civic groups and citizens to be stewards of this great community resource,” Monte says. “Not only does cleaning up our parks benefit Mother Nature by helping the land and water be cleaner and healthier, but it also helps our young citizens feel empowered that the things that they do matter and can have a lasting impact on the community and for the earth.”

Samantha Bartram, Executive Editor of Parks & Recreation magazine