Hollis teen built garden to attract bees and birds at Beaver Brook Association
HOLLIS, NH – One third of the world’s food supply depends on bees to pollinate crops, but since the late 1990s, beekeepers have observed a mysterious disappearance of bees and colony collapse, according to Greenpeace. To address this issue, Girl Scout Nora Miller of Hollis has created a pollinator garden at the Beaver Brook Association in Hollis with the goal of educating children and their families about this essential component to agriculture’s success. Through her work, Miller has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award for Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors – those in grades 9-12.
A Gold Award Girl Scout works to address an issue she’s passionate about in a way that produces meaningful and lasting change on a local, national, and/or global level. With her Pollinator Education project, Miller has made it possible for the Beaver Brook nature center to educate visitors about the importance of bees and birds to agriculture and how to attract them with the new garden.
Miller took an area meant to be a children’s garden that had become overgrown and was ill-defined, cleared it out, and created raised beds for plants that draw pollinators, such as milkweed for monarch butterflies. She also donated supplies to the center and created a sign to explain what the garden is about.
Anjali Longan teaches camp at Beaver Brook. “No one’s paid attention to the children’s garden. I was weeding and maintaining it, and Nora came around. She just totally redid the whole landscape!” she said. “She rolled up her sleeves and worked with Beaver Brook and with grants and her own grit to get it done. She had an amazing vision.”
Miller said she chose to focus her project on pollinator education because she’s participated in citizen science involving pollinators since she was very young. “My family would find monarch caterpillars and raise them until they hatched as butterflies, then tagged them to be tracked through their migration,” she wrote on her website, https://sites.google.com/view/pollinator-gold-award/home. “Hollis, NH, my hometown and the site of my garden, is also a very agricultural town, so I felt that having a garden to teach visitors and the local residents about the importance of pollinators would be a beneficial addition to the community.”
Along with the educational piece, Miller created a pollinator-themed escape room for families to take part in to teach both kids and adults about pollinators while solving fun puzzles. The admission price to the escape room helped her raise funds for the project while also teaching about the issue.
“Beaver Brook has been promoting education on pollinator species and their host plants in many of their classes for children and adults,” said Celeste Barr, an educator at Beaver Brook and one of the advisors to Miller’s project. “We have specially formulated seed mixes planted for pollinator species. We have been constructing mason bee houses with students,” she said. “And we promote the use of native plant species to support native bird and insects. Nora’s pollinator garden provides a focal point for visitors and students at our nature center to visit and to learn more. The plantings and storyboard are beautiful and very professional in appearance.”
The experience taught Miller a lot. “This was a really big project for me,” she said. It was a good experience in working with other people in the community, talking to different businesses, working with people from Beaver Brook, shaping those communication skills.”
“Nora was very good at communicating with Beaver Brook and staying in touch whenever there were new decisions to be made or steps to be taken,” said Barr. “I found it very easy to communicate and work with her. If there were options (i.e. height of raised beds, type and location of storyboard), she contacted me immediately to give our organization choices.”
Barr is happy with the work Miller did, and encourages visitors to come and see the garden.
“Her project far exceeded our expectations, and we are very proud to be the site where she created this wonderful educational addition to our campus,” she said.
Beaver Brook Nature Center trails and gardens in Hollis are open 365 days a year, free to the public.
Miller is now beginning her college experience as a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh, studying neuroscience. She is a true G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ who is prepared for success through the Girl Scout Leadership experience.
Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better, they change it for good. The Gold Award is earned by girls in grades 9–12 who demonstrate extraordinary leadership in developing sustainable solutions to local, national, and global challenges. Since 1916, Girl Scouts have answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change. The Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.