The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, open only to girls in high school. It involves girls making a change in the world through involvement in special projects. My Girl Scout Gold Award Project took place at the Piedmont Animal Farm Refuge in NC. It is a Non-Profit Organization with a mission to rescue farm animals from neglect, with a community outreach to educate about cruelty towards farm animals. Statistics show that an animal is abused every 10 seconds in the United States. Abuse refers to physical harm or failure to care for something or someone. Abuse can be in the form of starving, beating, killing, or fighting. Abuse of animals is, in my opinion, one of the most terrible and despicable crimes in the world. Animals look to us for protection as they are unable to communicate in our society. I love all animals; they are amazing creatures that should be loved and respected. I wanted to impact my community and help change this trend with my Gold Award Project at the Piedmont Animal Farm Refuge. I believe that our younger generation is the future for saving the lives of animals. We have the opportunity to give children a chance to interact and connect with all animals. If we educate children on how to care for animals properly and show them how good animals are, I believe there would be a decrease in neglect and abuse of animals. Children learn and imitate their parents as they get older. If a parent is abusing animals, the children will follow that example, thinking it’s an okay thing to do. “Since my mom and dad are hitting the dog, I guess its okay for me to do it too. I’m not doing anything wrong.” Children don’t learn right from wrong unless they have a leader to teach them. I believe the more we educate young children about animals and how to enrich their lives, the more we can make a change to lessen the crimes of animal abuse and neglect in the United States.
My project goal was to plan and create a sustainable Enrichment Poultry Herbal Garden for chicken and turkeys at the farm. My Enrichment Herbal Garden would improve the health of the animals, decrease veterinary cost that most of these animals need when they are first rescued, and enrich the environment that they live in. The garden turned out to be amazing - the chickens and turkeys love it. The project was a success! The second part of my Girl Scout Gold Award Project was to conduct an animal abuse and cruelty educational and enrichment training program for children at the Piedmont Animal Farm Refuge. This was an amazing event that not only changed me, but impacted the children. The children made enrichment toys and feed treats; they were given the opportunity to pet and brush all the animals at the farm. This event was an eye opener for the children. They were excited and engaged as they listened to the tour guide as we ventured around the farm. What interested me the most was the variety of questions the children asked about the animals? They made observational questions like, “What happened to her eye? Why does the baby goat only have one horn? What happened to her foot?” The children wanted to know what happened to these animals because they knew that what they were seeing was not normal. Animals should not be having these problems in their lives. The parents of a very sweet girl named Molly told me that on her way home from the educational and enrichment training program, she talked non-stop about the animals she met on the farm. She absolutely loved the entire experience. Even the goody bag that was decorated with animal stickers and passed out to the children at the end of the event was a hit! Molly took it everywhere with her. She put all her books and toys in that bag. She wanted to keep this with her, so she could always remember the animals she encountered. This led me to believe that if I have the ability to impact a small group of kids about animals and animal abuse, then the interaction and education of more people could have an even greater impact. I continue to encourage the community to be involved and educate everyone about animal abuse. I invite people to join events and fundraisers that involve animal organizations. I also ask those around me to donate and volunteer. The more we teach future generations about enriching the lives of all animals, the better quality of life will be experienced by all.
“It is often thought that when children are cruel to animals it is an exploratory stage of development. This may be partly true but the intensity, frequency and motivation for their actions must be considered. When a child grows up in an environment filled with violence --- as a witness, victim or perpetrator — there may be many factors behind his or her motivation to harm animals.”(National Link Collation)