Sierra Dinndorf of Bedford earns Girl Scouting’s highest honor
BEDFORD, NH – Sparked by an interest in her town’s history and driven by a desire to make it more accessible by putting that history online, Bedford’s Sierra Dinndorf has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor, the Girl Scout Gold Award.
Many of Bedford’s homes date back to the 1800s and even 1700s and have been documented in the town’s history books, but that history has not been accessible online. Dinndorf has created a website for the Bedford Historical Society that all can access through their organization’s home page. Her research included the comprehensive book, “History of Bedford N.H. 1737-1971,” but she took her project beyond simple transcription to learn more of the oral history of these homes from their owners.
“I talked and communicated with the historical homeowners in order to learn the history of the home as they knew it,” said the Bedford 18-year-old. “I created a website and a book documenting the history of their homes and some of the historical buildings in Bedford. My website is linked to the Bedford Historical Society's website and the book version of the material can be found in the public library.”
The Gold Award is anything but a one-time service project; the young women who earn it change the world in tangible and lasting ways. Beverly Thomas, co-president of the Bedford Historical Society, said this project has helped the society and will continue to do so in the future. She noted that the Bedford Historical Society is committed to preserving the town’s history and keeping it alive.
“It’s wonderful to see Sierra’s interest in the history of our community and her dedication to making this history more easily accessible through the website,” she said. “And I was pleased to learn that additional information can be added at any time to grow the database.”
Thomas helped Dinndorf to get a list of people to contact, but it was up to this Girl Scout Ambassador to reach out to people. She started by sending a letter out to homeowners in the Bedford Historic District who owned houses that were at least 100 years old.
“Not all of the homeowners wanted to or felt comfortable participating, and I was not able to connect with some,” said Dinndorf in her final report on her Gold Award project. “In these cases, I tried to do the research and piece together the history of the home. Dinndorf has catalogued 35 homes around Bedford, complete with photos, dates, and in some cases recorded their history as told by those familiar with the property. The oldest, according to the Bedford History, dates originally from 1665, and is known as Cromwell’s House. This property, at 34 Meetinghouse Road, was moved to its current location in 1970 by Harold P. Vannah, an antiques dealer. It’s believed to have been salvaged from the McGaw family homestead in Merrimack.
She has included slideshows of some homes through the years, such as the Rev. John Houston house at 86 Bedford Center Road. The property has served as a home, post office, boarding house, and general store for a short time (when the store across the street burned down).
Dinndorf said she was astounded by how much history in her town has been passed down, but not available in an online format.
“I learned the importance of recording information,” she said, “I also believe this project has helped me to become better at communicating with different types of people.”
Dinndorf wanted this information accessible online. “In a world where technology is progressing quickly, and more and more information is being transferred to online, I decided that the history of the homes in my town (including some which have been passed down through word of mouth) should be recorded in a place that is accessible to everyone,” she said. “My project seeks to improve local awareness of the history of my town as well as inform the general public about their history that they may drive by every day. I think it is important for people to be aware of the history around them, and my project helps people become aware of their history, and enables them to appreciate and understand aspects of their town more.”
Thomas hopes to see the information continue to be updated, and said those interested can contact the Bedford Historical Society at firstname.lastname@example.org with their stories. Dinndorf’s website can be accessed through the Bedford Historical Society’s website at www.bedfordhistoricalnh.org.
Dinndorf is looking toward a future of service in the military. After being accepted to the three military academies, she recently decided to accept her appointment at the US Air Force Academy. She said she will likely major in a STEM field like engineering.
“The main reason I want to be in the military is because it’s a great way to give back to the community,” she said. “I believe the military mission would be both challenging and rewarding.”
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.
Sierra Dinndorf 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.
- 12 young women have earned their Gold Award in the 2018-19 membership year in New Hampshire and Vermont 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 www.girlscoutsgwm.org.