Caitlin Bauer, of Davenport, Iowa, has achieved the Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts, by building an enrichment wall for the Pallas Cats at Niabi Zoo. The boxes and platforms for the wall are to increase the quality of life for the Pallas Cats and to keep them stimulated during their time at the zoo. Before her project, the Pallas Cat habitat was lacking a proper outdoor environment, but with Caitlin’s help a space was created where the cats can put their natural talents to use and stay engaged in the environment. Zoos often have a hard time finding the necessary resources and labor needed to create larger outdoor enrichment tools. Caitlin recognized this and was ready to help with the outcome of her project. Enrichment resources in zoos have a positive impact on not only the animals, but visitors as well. It enhances the visitor experience as the animals show more natural behaviors and can even inspire guests to become more interested in conservation efforts.
When asked about the purpose of her project, Caitlin said, “The animals benefited greatly from having this additional enrichment. However, I believe this was a very positive way to communicate to the visitors of the zoo how important enrichment and conservation of these animals are.”
A Girl Scout Gold Award project must tackle a broad spectrum of important issues and a young woman who has earned her Gold Award has become a community leader in the truest sense.
Read what Caitlin has to say about her project and the value of Girl Scouts!
How long have you been a Girl Scout?
I started Girl Scouts in Kindergarten, about 13 years. I started as a Daisy.
What do you love about Girl Scouting?
I like that my troop has granted me ample opportunities to spend time outside doing the kind of activities I enjoy such as kayaking, rock climbing, zip lining, horseback riding, and camping.
What inspired your Gold Award project?
I knew I wanted to do something regarding animals, and when I found that the Niabi Zoo needed enrichment for their pallas cats I was interested in taking on the project.
What role has Girl Scouts played in your life?
It's given me opportunities to do things I normally wouldn't have had the chance to do, especially outdoors.
What is your next step after earning your Gold Award? Are you going to college? If so, where and what will you be studying?
I'm currently attending Iowa State University with a major in Animal Science, and plan to eventually apply for veterinary school.
Girl Scout Gold Award
Since 1916, Girl Scouts have been making meaningful, sustainable change in their communities and around the world. The Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn, acknowledges the power behind each recipient’s dedication to not only empowering and bettering herself, but also to making the world a better place for others. These young women are courageous leaders and visionary change makers. They are our future, and it looks bright!
The steps to becoming a Gold Award Girl Scout are rooted in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. To achieve this honor, a girl must:
- Choose an issue she cares about.
- Investigate everything she can about the issue.
- Get help by inviting others to support and take action with her.
- Create a plan that achieves sustainable and measurable impact.
- Present her plan and get feedback from the Girl Scout council.
- Take action to carry out her plan.
- Educate and inspire others with what she experienced.
- Complete at least 80 hours working on the project.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois
Through the Girl Scout Program, girls learn to face challenges head-on, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, create lasting relationships, and find dynamic solutions to social issues—all while building the skills and courage they need to take the lead every day and empower themselves for life. To join or volunteer, visit www.GirlScoutsToday.org.