Sarah Hardy of Merrimack earns Girl Scouting’s highest honor
MERRIMACK, NH – Documenting our travels with selfies is part of our culture now. Unfortunately, not everyone considers their safety when trying to capture that ultimate shot for their Instagram post. Gold Award Girl Scout Sarah Hardy decided to making getting those pictures safer for those walking the scenic trails in Merrimack, and has installed five granite posts along three trails with stands on which one can prop a cell phone to get that perfect shot. Her effort to make the world a better place has earned Hardy the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor for a high school-age Girl Scout.
Hardy, 18, of Merrimack, was inspired to take action against this danger on a local trail.
“I was walking with my family at Wildcat Falls,” said Hardy. “We saw these teens that were leaning over a cliff and trying to get a picture, and my family was, like, wow, that is really dangerous. My mom said that would be the perfect idea. It happens a lot more than I thought. People don’t realize how dangerous it can be.”
CBS News reports that 259 people died taking selfies between 2011 and 2017. People fall from cliffs, crash cars, drown, and more taking risky photos.
After researching her idea, Hardy decided that putting selfie stands on trails at such desirable photo spots was the answer. She presented the concept to the Merrimack Town Council, and they liked it. One resident, Paul Goodridge, liked the idea so much that he donated over $1,000 toward the granite posts from Swenson’s Granite Works.
Installing the very heavy posts – they can weigh more than 400 pounds – was another problem for Hardy to solve. Ultimately, with family members and friends, she planted five posts with selfie stands. Two are at Horse Hill Nature Preserve, two at Twin Bridges, and one at Grater Woods behind the middle school.
Along with installation of the posts, Hardy encourages people to post to Instagram the photos they take with the hashtag #gsgwmselfiestands, or tag with @nhselfiestands. That encourages awareness of the stands and how they are being used. She also made a video on how she installed the selfie stands so others can spread her idea to more locations.
Gina Rosati, her project advisor and member of the Merrimack Conservation Commission, said Hardy’s selfie stands are a well-thought-out solution to a problem she herself faced on the trails.
“There are too many times when people are injured or worse while trying to get a selfie, and I love that Sarah's project was inspired by her concern for others' safety,” Rosati said. “After the Conservation Commission unanimously approved Sarah's project, I helped Sarah schedule a presentation to the Town Council (who also needed to approve), and met her at the Town Council meeting, where she impressed the entire Town Council with her presentation and plans. Sarah's selfie stands are built to last and well placed in spots with beautiful backgrounds. Hikers are enjoying how easy it is to take a safe selfie.”
Working toward her Girl Scout Gold Award resulted in gaining many new and useful skills.
“I learned that I am capable of so much more than I thought,” said Hardy. “I strongly dislike giving presentations but I got very positive feedback when I gave my presentations to the Conservation Commission and Town Hall. That gave me a lot of confidence for future presentations. I also learned that I am capable of being organized and balancing multiple things at once. I was able to continue this project along with completing my senior year of high school, being involved with three varsity sports, applying to college and family vacations/trips.”
Hardy has been a Girl Scout for 11 years, and has formed tight connections with her sister Girl Scouts. She has also earned the Girl Scout Silver Award for work with the Merrimack Public Library, and the Bronze Award for her work providing pet blankets and toys to a shelter, participated in the Girl Scout Cookie program, done public service, attended camporees, and mentored younger Girl Scouts. She also had the opportunity to travel, enjoying a trip to Prince Edward Island in Nova Scotia with her troop.
Now a freshman at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania, Hardy is studying speech language pathology with plans to become an audiologist.
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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.
Sarah Hardy 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.
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-two young women from New Hampshire and Vermont earned their Gold Award so far 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.