Ava Kerns from Edgewood, Iowa, has achieved the Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, for planting and maintaining fruit tree orchards at Edgewood Colesburg Community School, Edgewood Convalescent Home, and Lincolnwood Assisted Living to support families who are food insecure.
“Food insecurity is a major problem, especially in rural areas,” says Ava. “According to the State of Iowa stats, our school system, which includes the communities of Edgewood and Colesburg, Iowa, has 36.3% of our students that rely on free and reduced lunches.”
Ava began her journey by working with the horticulture class and FFA chapter at her school to plant pear and apple trees in an orchard within walking distance for students. The fruit trees provide a healthy food option for students who are facing food insecurity and created an educational opportunity about food. Throughout the year, the horticulture students will care for the trees by pruning, watering, and harvesting the fruit that will be used by the school.
To expand the reach of her project, she also planted fruit trees at local assisted living centers, planting about 20 trees within the town. The new trees not only provide a beautiful view to residents but also provide fresh fruit to the elderly. In total, Ava spent almost 100 hours planning and planting her orchards.
“I learned that I could do anything if I worked hard at it and that I am capable. There's more to myself than I thought,” says Ava. “I am enjoying watching the trees grow and thrive over the summer and knowing that my project has created an impact in our community.”
Through achieving the Gold Award, Ava is educating a new generation of kids about sustainable and nutritional food options.
The Gold Award is the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn, available to girls in high school who create sustainable change on a community or world issue. Gold Award Girl Scouts address the root cause of a problem, plan and implement innovative solutions to drive change, and lead a team of people to success. As they take action to transform their world, Gold Award Girl Scouts gain tangible skills and prove they are the leaders our community and the world need.