Girl Scouts - endangered species

Photo by Alexandra Retter


From left, Girl Scout Troop 47933 members Heidi Geldernick, Lucie Johnson and Lexi Stoltman present one of the signs their troop made about endangered species in the area. Other signs are at trails and boat launches locally. The troop won a Bronze Award for their work.



Last fall, members of local Girl Scout Troop 47933 saw signs about endangered species at a local wildlife refuge. It made them wonder: What could they do to help? Ultimately, they created signs about endangered species in the Winona area that are now at local trails and boat launches. Their work resulted in them earning a Bronze Award through Girl Scouts.

The signs center on the federally endangered Rusty patched bumblebee, Karner blue butterfly, Higgins eye pearly mussel and sheepnose mussel. 

“Because there are a lot of endangered animals, so instead of doing all the endangered animals in the world, we narrowed it down to the endangered animals in Winona so that people could care more about them and ruining their habitats,” said troop member Heidi Geldernick, who is going into sixth grade. It is important to know about these species being endangered because the bees and butterflies pollinate all kinds of plants, said troop member Lexi Stoltman, who is going into fifth grade. The troop members agreed that the mussels help keep river ecosystems healthy, as well. 

On the trails, the signs the scouts created include reminders to stay on the trail and not leave traces of humans being there, while the signs at boat launches feature reminders about cleaning boats to prevent the spread of invasive species and checking for oil leaks. 

One goal of the signs is to inspire community members to respect these endangered species. “There is a lot more in these animals than …  a harmful bumblebee that they’re scared of, or a butterfly that looks so cool you want to touch it but you shouldn’t,” Geldernick said. “You shouldn’t be scared because they’re just doing their job by pollinating the flowers.” 

To create the signs, troop members started by looking up the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species register. “We did research on them first, to figure out which ones were … the endangered ones,” troop member Lucie Johnson, who is going into fifth grade, said. The troop members then drafted signs on paper and electronically. Their work also included writing and sending a letter about the signs to the local parks and recreation department. They even got a letter back about there being a pollinator garden in town where a sign could go. “It was really fun,” Johnson said of completing the project. 

The troop members earned their Bronze Award for their efforts. In the next few years, they could work on another project to earn their Silver Award, and in the years following that, they could complete other work to earn their Gold Award. “It was exciting,” Johnson said of earning the award. 

Troop 47933 Leader and Sugar Loaf Girl Scouts Service Unit Manager Megan Peterson said the troop members completed the project all on their own, and she hopes they learned about leadership, communication, research and activism. “Really, they’re all very passionate about our environment and caring for it, and [I’m] hoping that that fosters more of that as they get older and feel they have the ability to do more for our community,” she said. 

The troop members agreed that now, they are looking forward to working on earning their Silver Award. 

Troop 47933’s signs about butterflies and bumblebees can be found at the Winona Visitor’s Center, East Lake Park, Holzinger Trails, and Sugar Loaf Trail, and their signs about mussels can be found at the Riverfront Boat Ramp, East End Boat Harbor, Lion’s Park, Latsch Island, Lake Goodview, Prairie Island Boat Launch and Dick’s Marine.