Elijah Lembo of Exeter earns Girl Scout Gold Award for helping rehome unwanted horses
EXETER, NH – There are millions of unwanted horses in the United States, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Giving at least some of them a caring home is the goal of one Girl Scout, who has worked to publicize the need for horses to be taken care of. With their project “Rescue and Rehome,” Elijah Lembo has earned the highest honor in Girl Scouting for a high schooler, the Gold Award.
Lembo, 18, of Exeter, has been working with Hidden Pond Farm Equine Rescue for the past four years, which rescues unwanted horses. The horses are rehabilitated and often rehomed, but it’s expensive to take care of such large animals. The farm is funded through trail rides, summer camps, grants, and donations.
“I hope to educate people on the work the barn does and the issue of horse slaughter as a whole,” said Lembo. “Horse slaughter is one of the most brutal and inhumane practices in existence.”
To bring awareness to the issue, Lembo created a series of 18 videos now posted on TikTok featuring the many horses being cared for at Hidden Pond Farm. One horse was a race horse named Venezuelan Beauty, and despite winning her last race, she ended up in a kill pen. Another animal, Pedro, was skittish, but Lembo gained the horse’s trust through hours spent singing to the horse and getting it to take treats.
While it is illegal in the U.S. to use horse meat for human consumption, it is still allowed for pet food, and many horses are sent to slaughter out of the country. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals describes horse slaughter, the killing of horses for human consumption, as inhumane, and that while horse slaughter is outlawed in the U.S., an average of 137,000 American horses were shipped to facilities in Mexico and Canada.
By posting on TikTok about the horses in need of care and homes, as well as about the issue of horse slaughter, Lembo hopes to reach a global audience to effect change. As of mid-November, some of the videos had as many as a thousand views.
As with so many things, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Lembo to revise the original plan, which included doing physical work on the rescue’s barn, but learning to adapt, communicate, and direct a new project were key.
“I can be an excellent communicator when I put my heart into it. A lot of this project was spent talking to people and explaining what I was doing, and asking them to spread the word. By building conversation, I was able to push this project further out into the world,” said the Gold Award Girl Scout. “I learned my lesson about time management!”
Lembo began in Girl Scouts as a kindergartner, and met some of their best friends through the years through Girl Scouting. Going to an international Scouting jamboree in England called Poacher is a cherished memory.
“The most accepted and loved I’d ever felt in a group of people was at that camp,” Lembo said.
Currently, Lembo is a freshman at Skidmore College in New York, studying art history with minors in arts administration and studio art, with a possible career in museum curation in the future.
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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.
Elijah Lembo has answered the call to drive lasting, impactful change, and their Gold Award is a testament to their remarkable dedication to improving their community and the world.
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.
- Twenty-nine young women from New Hampshire and Vermont earned their Gold Award in the 2020-2021 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.
We Are Girl Scouts
Girl Scouts bring their dreams to life and work together to build a better world. Through programs from coast to coast, Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges—whether they want to climb to the top of a tree or the top of their class, lace up their boots for a hike or advocate for climate justice, or make their first best friends. Backed by trusted adult volunteers, mentors, and millions of alums, Girl Scouts lead the way as they find their voices and make changes that affect the issues most important to them. To join us, volunteer, reconnect, or donate, visit girlscouts.org.
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains serves girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont through volunteer-run troops, events, and virtual programs. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org to learn more.