Girl Scouts of the USA was established with the belief that every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) has the power to change the world. Girl Scouts honor the legacy of their founder, Juliette Gordon Low, by promoting respect and love for the outdoors and helping girls build leadership skills and creative drive.
In 2017, the Girl Scouts launched new badges and journeys focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and the outdoors, providing girls with more opportunities to develop new skills and work for a healthier, more sustainable environment.
The Izaak Walton League’s Save Our Streams program educates volunteers about the potential pollution impacts on local waterways and introduces them to water quality monitoring. Scouts can apply these activities to many different journeys and badges, including:
Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey: Girls will practice the scientific method by undertaking a citizen science project. They will make observations, collect data, and work with scientists who provide feedback on research and findings. “Stream Selfie” is one of the projects recommended for this journey. Visit the Stream Selfie page on SciStarter to get started!
Wonders of Water Journey (Brownies/grades 2-3): This journey focuses on the importance of clean water and different ways Scouts can help protect water resources, including educating and inspiring others to join them and commit to a water promise.
Bugs Badge (Brownies/grades 2-3): What better way to see bugs in action than to search for macroinvertebrates in a local stream and learn about their different sensitivity levels to pollution? Which stream bugs you find – or don’t find – in the stream can tell you a lot about water quality!
Animal Habitats Badge (Juniors/grades 4-5): Girls will learn about different animal habitats and how they can help protect them. It is sometimes easy to forget that a stream is not only a body of water but a home for numerous animals, including many small ones that easily get overlooked. Investigate stream bugs (called macroinvertebrates) and the importance of keeping streams healthy.
Sow What? Journey (Seniors/grades 9-10): Girl Scouts learn about food – how and where it’s grown, processed, distributed, and consumed – and why it matters. Food production can have significant effects on water quality, so this is a good opportunity to explore those connections.
Water Badge (Ambassadors/grades 11-12): Girls will reflect on their relationships with water; find out about past, current, and future water issues; and explore different solutions to these issues and educate the public.
The Power of Advocacy Journey (Ambassadors/grades 11-12): Fish and wildlife can’t speak up to protect their own habitat (where they live) and the healthy streams and rivers they need to live. We all need clean water. This is a great topic for a Girl Scout’s advocacy efforts. Whether it’s working to keep community streams clean or asking Congress to protect water quality nationwide, every girl can make a difference.
Ultimate Recreation Challenge Badge (Ambassadors/grades 11-12): Activities for this badge include camping, water adventure, and recreation unique to your area – all of which could include exploration of water resources. In addition, this badge encourages Scouts to explore outdoor-related careers that can include a water focus, such as environmentalist, fish and game warden, and outdoor educator.
Troop Camping Badges (all ages): Camping badge requirements for most Girl Scouts include a water element, whether it’s purifying water to drink, solving erosion caused by water, or traveling on water as part of a paddling trip. Testing water quality in streams near where you camp could be worked into these requirements. (And no one wants to wash their mess kits in polluted water!)
Silver and Gold Awards: Stream monitoring and other water-related projects can also encourage and inspire girls when it comes to Silver and Gold Awards.