Cardinal Mooney’s Faith Holliday built an agility course for dogs at Donte’s Den.
A lot of women have memories of spending time in the Girl Scouts as a kid, earning badges and selling cookies. But far fewer stick with it long enough to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award.
Faith Holliday did.
A 14-year-old ninth-grader at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Holliday researched, planned and built an agility course for Donte’s Den, a home for dogs whose owners can’t care for them, located in Myakka City.
“An agility course is important for Donte’s Den because they didn’t really have anything to focus on the dogs’ agility, and for the older dogs there, they really need to,” Holliday said.
She completed the project to receive the Gold Award — the highest award a Girl Scout can achieve that challenges young women to change something in their community. It requires 80 hours of work to complete a seven-step process: identify an issue, investigate it thoroughly, get a team together, create a plan, present it and gather feedback, take action and educate others.
Holliday worked with Donte’s Den founder Marsha Panuce to identify the best type of course for the dogs, and then got to work. She contacted stores in the area and got materials donated from Home Depot, and she got her troop members on board to help her build it.
The agility course includes a teeter-totter to cross, hurdles to jump and poles to weave through.
Holliday said she was a little nervous she wouldn’t be able to complete the project in the 80-hour time frame.
“I actually hadn’t worked on anything like this before. I wanted to do something that was completely new and I could use the skills later in life,” she said. “But it turns out once I actually got all the people together, it went a lot faster than I expected, and the whole process was a lot more fun than I expected it to be.”
And the dogs are enjoying it, according to Panuce.
“They really do like the course,” she said. “[Some of the dogs] just kind of look at it … [but] in this cooler weather, they’re loving it.”
Now that Holliday has completed the steps to get the Girl Scouts’ top honor, she is back to working on earning other badges, and is eligible to be named one of 10 National Young Women of Distinction.
To Panuce, Holliday is distinct among her peers.
“When Faith decides that she is going to do something, she sets that goal and she meets that goal, and then she sets the bar higher for herself,” she said. “I so admire a young woman like Faith because she’s gonna go places. There’s no two ways about it.”