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East County Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2021 1 year ago

Girl Scouts receive Gold Awards for serving others in east Bradenton

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Two Braden River High School graduates earn top Girl Scout honors for helping others.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

As a teenager, did you ever wonder how to change a tire? What about how to write a check? Maybe you needed tips and tricks on how to write a resume or tie a tie for a job interview?

Olivia Townsend, a Girl Scout and 2021 graduate of Braden River High School, has some answers. 

When Townsend was a senior in high school, she started

Olivia Townsend earns her Girl Scout Gold Award by creating a Guide to Adulting website. Photo by Liz Ramos.

thinking about all the tasks she would need to know as an adult but she hadn’t learned in school. 

Her struggle with "adulting" became her inspiration for her Gold Award project for Girl Scouts. 

The Gold Award is the highest achievement for a Girl Scout. The project requires 80 hours and must make a long-lasting impact on the community.

Townsend spent months at the end of 2019 trying to find a place where she could host classes on different aspects of adulting, but she didn’t have any luck. Then the pandemic hit in March 2020, and she decided to move her Guide to Adulting into a web format with a website with videos and step-by-step instructions.

“(There were) all these different tasks when I turned 17 that I had to figure out and do on my own, and I was like, ‘Well, I’m sure if I don’t know how to do it, a whole bunch of other people don’t know how to do it,’” Townsend said. 

Townsend received her Gold Award in May along with six other Girl Scouts in Manatee County, including East County’s Sydney Shepard, who graduated from Braden River High School in 2020.

Sydney Shepard earns her Girl Scout Gold Award by developing a garden for residents at DeSoto Beach Club and helping residents garden. Photo by Liz Ramos.

Shepard’s Gold Award project was building portable Earth boxes for DeSoto Beach Club, a retirement community in Sarasota, so the residents could garden. 

Shepard’s inspiration for her project stems from her grandfather, Chuck Neetz, who was in a retirement home in New York and started gardening and sharing what he grew with his community.

“Gardening makes you feel happy, energized and successful whenever you do something correct, and it makes you feel independent because you’re focusing on your own thing,” Shepard said. “When you see the product day-by-day that it’s growing, you feel satisfied with yourself. I wanted to share that experience with the retirement community because I saw the community didn’t have many outdoor activities.”

While working with her parents, Douglas and Juliet Shepard, and her boyfriend, Joseph Schneier, Shepard built the boxes for the residents to use, then helped the residents plant flowers and other plants.

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