Converting a patch of earth into a children’s vegetable garden at her church’s preschool is Elise Kammeyer’s way to encourage healthy eating, fight childhood obesity and achieve her Girl Scout Gold Award project.
The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest national award that a Girl Scout can earn, with only about 1 percent of all Girl Scouts achieving this level.
Kammeyer is a Parkway West senior and a Girl Scout Ambassador in Troop 472.
“My project helped preschoolers learn about healthy food and their environment, along with some basic plant science,” Kammeyer said in a presentation at Lord of Life Lutheran Church. “They planted vegetables, herbs, annuals and bulbs. Planting was interactive and fun for the kids and it provided a long-term activity as they watched plants grow in the classroom and in the garden.”
Kammeyer believes encouraging children to eat healthy food at an early age is key to combating obesity.
“Healthy eating has been a major concern in America for the past few years. Schools started switching to healthier lunch options but obesity is still prevalent,” Kammeyer said. She added that her project also encouraged the children to sample vegetables they grew themselves and hopefully, to continue planting and eating vegetables in the future.
Kammeyer and her team spent more than 120 hours over eight months designing, planning and creating the garden. Attaining the Girl Scout Gold Award requires a suggested 80 hours of planning and implementing a challenging, large-scale project that is innovative, engages others and has a lasting impact on its targeted community with an emphasis on sustainability.
“Before this project, I never really thought of myself as a leader,” she said. “I was fine leading small projects but I never wanted full control. This project allowed me to plan and carry out something of my own design as well as organize a team to lead along the way.”
While the church’s youth group has been charged with keeping the garden clean and weed-free next year, the preschool staff has the option of continuing the program. Kammeyer created photo books to document the progress and to use as reference tools for future gardens. She added that though the garden was designed specifically for the preschool, the entire church is welcome to use it.