By Myria P.
Ambassador Girl Scout
I knew right away I wanted to combine my two passions, Girl Scouts and paleontology, for my Gold Award project. Being a volunteer at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS), I was able to create a touch cart (an educational collection of tangible specimens that museum docents share with visitors) for the Permian time period in the museum's new Morian Hall of Paleontology. The project included excavations to collect fossils, molding and casting of fossil specimens, composition of the touch cart manual and, most importantly, training docents on how to present each item in the cart to the public.
I have been in love with ancient animals since I was 2 years old; in fact, the only toys I played with were dinosaurs and animals. When I became a volunteer at HMNS at the age of 12, my paleo passion only seemed to thrive and expand. My Gold Award project allowed me to share my enthusiasm for the ancient beasts with other docents, including some that may not have had an initial interest in paleontology. By teaching more than 50 docents how to present each of the items contained in the cart, they are also able to pass on my passion and stories when they share the specimens with museum visitors. It sparks a real interest in earth science and leaves them wanting to learn more even if I am not physically present. Especially when they hold real coprolite!
I learned about the hierarchy in presenting an idea to a nonprofit organization. I had to request to be on the agenda for the board meeting and formally propose my ideas to the Museum Guild in order to obtain permission for the cart to become a fixture in the new paleo hall. When teaching the docents how to present the items and the history behind each relic, I gained a deeper understanding of communication with people of all ages.
I would encourage all girls to “Go Gold” and to make it a project they are passionate about. Girl Scouts will gain skills by experiencing the process of achieving their Gold Award, and these experiences will extend to other areas in their lives and they will make life-long connections with others. My advice to a Girl Scout planning a Gold Award Project would be for her to take her love for something and use that passion to make a lasting difference in society, whether it's sports, music or paleontology.