Bats that need a safe place to sleep during daylight can now find shelter at Spring Meadow thanks to the effort on one local Girl Scout.
Christine Patten, 14, recently earned her silver award, the second highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Part of her project included installing 30 bat boxes at Spring Meadow Lake State Park.
Patten is a C.R. Anderson eighth-grader who’s been involved in scouting since she was 5. Today she is a Cadette, the rank category for her age.
“I really enjoy the outdoor adventure of Girl Scouts,” she said.
During her years as a Girl Scout, Patten has participated in sailing camp, rock climbing and countless camping trips.
Earning the silver award takes a big commitment, says Liz Burke, who served as Patten’s advisor on the endeavor.
It requires three patches, community service, technology involvement and career research, which for Patten started about a year ago and totaled a 60-hour investment.
Patten says it takes certain characteristics to earn the silver award: organization, leadership, time management and persistence. Those qualities take a certain level of determination, which likely is why only four percent of Girl Scouts nationally earn their silver awards. Patten was one of 30 who earned the award among the 820 Girl Scouts in the Montana and Wyoming Council.
“It’s good for college applications, but it shows you have determination,” Patten said.
It took a certain amount of research from Patten, too, since she was not a bat expert, but she said she wanted to learn and teach about animals in nature.
Patten said that when thinking about bat boxes, there are a few basics one must know: the boxes need to be 10 feet off the ground, ideally on poles, and near a body of water with six hours of daylight.
Patten got some help building the boxes at a Scout Earth Day event at Spring Meadow. There were stations at the event and Patten taught the troop members how to run the stations, which included plant identification, the food chain of the animals there, a scavenger hunt and a bat “Jeopardy” game.
Burke describes Patten as a girl who is mature.
“She really does well having adult conversations,” Burke said.
Patten became confident through the process, Burke added.
“It was exciting to see what she took off with and did on her own,” she said.
Girl Scouts of the USA is the world’s preeminent organization dedicated solely to girls — all girls — where, in an accepting and nurturing environment, girls build character and skills for success in the real world.
In partnership with committed adult volunteers, girls develop qualities that will serve them all their lives, like leadership, strong values, social conscience and conviction about their own potential and self-worth.
Founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low, Girl Scouts’ membership has grown from 18 members in Savannah, Ga, to 3.4 million members throughout the United States, including U.S. territories, and in more than 90 countries through USA Girl Scouts Overseas.
Burke was a girl scout in the ’80s and earned her gold award, the highest in the organization.
“Each award has an advisor. My role was to sit back and let her take control while giving her guidance,” she said. “So I did as much as I could to enable her to be in charge of the project, but I was also there to ensure her success if there were pitfalls and to give her guidance along the way. It’s amazing how much work she put into it.”
Burke said she enjoys seeing how scouting has changed in some respects and that its gratifying to see girls are still pursuing it.
“I love their motto of building girls with courage and character, and I think because it’s an all-girl environment it allows them to take more leadership roles,” she said. “It instills the desire to work outdoors. I think it’s a large reason why I got into the career I am — working with the forest.”
Patten too wants to earn her gold award, which will take about three years. She’s not sure what her topic will be, but she’s sure she has the determination to get the job done.
Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or email@example.com