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Gold Award Girl Scout creates nature trail in Hopkinton

Gold Award Website - Emma Rothe

Emma Rothe earned Girl Scouting's highest award

HOPKINTON, NH – Getting people away from screens and out into nature was the goal of one determined Girl Scout, leading her to create a brand new nature trail in her hometown where anyone could get fresh air, exercise, and even learn a bit about local flora while leaving the electronics behind. Emma Rothe is now a Gold Award Girl Scout, earning Girl Scouting’s highest award for making her community a better place.

Rothe, 18, of Hopkinton personally cleared about a third of a mile through the forested land behind the Hopkinton Public Library, and installed informational signs along the trail for her Gold Award project, Hopkinton Nature Walk. The relatively flat trail winds through the forest alongside the Hopkinton Story Walk. The Gold Award is the highest honor available to a Girl Scout in high school, and is the capstone for her Girl Scout service.

“There was no existing trail where I was working,” Rothe said, “so I had to clear it basically from scratch, but I tried my best to pick a route through the forest that would require the least amount of damage to the trees and other forest growth. Most of what I cleared were dead trees or small undergrowth. The signs along the trail each describe a species of local plant life and provide some background information on that species.”

The Hopkinton Recreation Department has agreed to maintain the trail, and Girl Scout troops in the area will also contribute to upkeep, sustaining the project well into the future.

“My trail also has opportunities for additions,” said Rothe, “such as adding more informational signs or adding a bench or two along the trail, and my town will suggest these projects to anyone else looking for a way to benefit the community.”

”Emma’s project is a unique addition to the town,” said Paula Simpkins, of the Hopkinton Recreation Department. “As we see more people engaging in outdoor activities, she combined both the element of exercising and exploring the outdoors along with an added educational component about our natural woodlands here in town. The project was very well done and impressive! I’m sure we will have many residents enjoying and appreciating her project.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic made aspects of carrying out her work difficult, it also had an upside.

“It definitely negatively affected my ability to collaborate with others,” she said, “but luckily I was able to get all of the planning and meetings with the town and recreation department done before COVID-19. Although it added more stress to my schedule, being a high school senior and with everything that was happening with school, graduation, etc., doing online school from home actually gave me some more time to work on the project than I would have had if we still had school in person.”

Rothe’s achievement earning the Gold Award is just one of many. She is the valedictorian for the Class of 2020 at Hopkinton High School, was captain of her Nordic skiing team, and participated in varsity cross country, and track and field all four years of high school.

She’s a lifelong Girl Scout, having started in Daisies, and has made many memories and friends. “I would say that my favorite part of Girl Scouts has been the friendships and connections I have made with my fellow Girl Scouts,” she said. “We always cooked a meal together at every meeting, which was so much fun. We also loved to get out and do stuff together, and some of my favorite memories are from hiking, going to the beach, participating in town cleanups, and even traveling to Quebec together!”

Along the way, Rothe was building the life skills that will prove useful to her throughout her life. Working on this project continued to strengthen those skills.

“I am very proud of myself for being able to accomplish my Gold Award,” she said. “Prior to my Gold Award, I had never done a project so big or one that impacted the community so much. It was a very empowering feeling to step back and look at what all my hard work built up to, and to see my name on a sign that will stand at my town's library for years to come. It means a lot to me to have created something that inspires others to get out and enjoy the outdoors, and I have already gotten so many positive comments from people living in town that love the trail! For girls considering earning their Gold Award, I would say: Go for it! It may seem daunting at first, but if you just take it one step at a time, you can eventually create something amazing!”

She hopes more Girl Scouts step up to the challenge of Girl Scouting’s highest awards. “If anyone is thinking about doing a project in their community, but is overwhelmed by how big it seems, don't worry!” she said. “Start by reaching out to your town, seeing what your community needs, and then plan it out! It may seem impossible, but I am here to tell you that it is very possible if you just take it one step at a time!”

Rothe is currently a freshman St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and hopes to major in chemistry.

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. They earn college scholarships, demonstrate high educational and career outcomes, and are active in their communities.

Emma Rothe has answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change, and her Gold Award is a testament to her remarkable dedication to improving her community and the world. The Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable.

About the Girl Scout Gold Award

  • Gold Award Girl Scouts on average spend one to two years on their project.
  •  A Gold Award project must be sustainable after the girl’s involvement ends.
  • The average age of Gold Award Girl Scouts is 17.
  • Since 1916, more than 1 million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.
  • Gold Award Girl Scouts are entitled to enlist at a higher pay grade when they join the military.
  • University research indicates that noting you are a Gold Award Girl Scout on a college application is influential in the admissions decision-making process.
  • Eleven young women from New Hampshire and Vermont earned their Gold Award in the 2019-2020 membership year as part of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
  • The Girl Scout 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