Plum, Penn Hills Girl Scouts will receive Silver Awards on Friday

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Gabrielle Miller enjoys gardening.

Gabrielle, 14, of Plum, recently had an opportunity to mix her love of growing plants with her passion for helping others in a community-service project.

The freshman at Plum High School and three other members of Girl Scout Troop 50031 came up with a plan to plant a rain garden in September at the Boyce Park Nature Center.

Stemming in part from the project, Gabrielle; Kelci Gerken, 14, of Penn Hills; and Allison Burns, 15, and Audrey Pattock, 14, both of Plum, are set to receive the Girl Scout Silver Award during a ceremony beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on Milltown Road in Penn Hills, where the Scouts conduct their meetings.

The Silver Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadet can earn.

“Our troop leader called the nature center and asked what was on their wish list,” Miller said. “They said a rain garden.”

Miller said the Scouts took a couple of months planning the work, including measuring the space allotted for the garden and figuring out how many plants were needed.

When the day arrived — Sept. 16 — the Scouts were ready to go.

Troop leader Darla Burns said the Scouts spent about $250 on the project.

In addition, they received donations of plants, mulch and the excavation work.

“I thought it would take much longer than a day, but we got a lot of help from other people,” said Allison, the daughter of Darla Burns. “So many people brought plants. We had too many.”

Allison said she also enjoyed learning about the Boyce Park Nature Center and talking with the staff.

“We got to meet the people,” Allison said. “It was a good way to help the community.”

Darla Burns said one of the requirements to earn the Silver Award is to find a need in the community, resolve the need and make it sustainable for the future.

She said the project served to teach the girls not only about nature but also life lessons.

“They learned about energy consumption and the benefits of a rain garden,” Darla Burns said.

“They learned how to deal with conflict, how to work as a team and about leadership.”

The girls plan to visit the rain garden.

“I want to go back and see it,” Gabrielle said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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