When West Ranch High School senior Nicole Augusta was a young Girl Scout, she remembers dreaming about getting her Gold Award.
The Gold Award, comparable to the Boy Scouts of America’s Eagle Scout, is awarded to fewer than 6% of Girl Scouts annually and is the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve, according to Girl Scouts of the USA.
“I’ve been a Girl Scout for 13 years, ever since I was in kindergarten,” Augusta said. “Since I was a Daisy, (which is) what the youngest girls are called, I’ve always been told that, ‘one day, you’re gonna grow up, and you’re gonna do your Gold Award.’ And so that’s always just something I’ve looked forward to.”
While the project itself may have not gone just as she’d imagined, as the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in her plans, she pressed on and was able to finally accomplish her goal.
Helping promote children’s literacy
Augusta has always loved reading and has volunteered at local libraries since she was young, so when it came time to choose a project, she immediately knew children’s literacy would be her focus.
“I chose to collaborate with the Canyon Country Library because it was facing a big organizational restructure, and so I felt like it had the greatest need there,” she said. “They needed projects to help revitalize it … and revamp their children’s area.”
With the hopes of increasing library attendance, Augusta developed and ran various programs for children and their parents, with activities based on subjects ranging from science, technology, engineering and math to animals and culture.
“Those definitely increased attendance,” Augusta added. “One event even had over 90 families come, which was really amazing to see.”
When COVID-19 hit and the library was forced to close its doors, Augusta had to change course and figure out how to complete her goals.
“I had to kind of take it in a new direction, so I then began doing these Storytime Starter kits, which were published on the library’s blog,” she said. “Those have been very popular during this time of quarantine.”
Each of the 18 Storytime Starter kits Augusta created involved organizing reading lists, along with crafts, songs and activities for different topics.
“Every Friday, we created these Storytime Starters for the community to be able to make their own storytime at home,” added Liza Purdy, senior children’s librarian for the Santa Clarita Public Libraries. “There’s tons of research and effort and energy that needs to go in them … so she did a lot of that for us, which was very helpful.”
As with Augusta’s project, the library had to find ways to adapt and keep the community reading.
“Though our physical doors aren’t open, our mission doesn’t change, so it has been, what can we do to adapt our services to meet and reach the public,” Purdy said.
Augusta continued to help the library with that goal, also leading virtual storytimes with local children, as well as creating a website and brochure to further instill the importance of childhood literacy.
“A lot of it she very much ran on her own, which was just amazing that someone of that age was able to show that much initiative,” Purdy added. “She did so much for us, and she really made a real contribution.”
Augusta said she’s always been an avid reader and had grown up in a family where literacy was extremely important, so it was most rewarding for her to be able to impart that notion on other kids who might not have been so lucky.
“Being able to target these programs to kids, and also their parents, and even during quarantine, having this continue, when they are looking for things to do, I think was really cool,” Augusta added.
Completion never felt so good
“It feels very surreal because it’s kind of just hitting me that all this time I’ve been dreaming about doing this, and I’ve finally achieved it,” she said of her project’s completion. “It’s crazy to think about it, but I know that my Girl Scout journey is not gonna end here for sure.”
For Augusta, Girl Scouts has not only brought her some of her closest friends, but it’s really taught her a lot about leadership and staying involved in her community.
“Definitely in the future, I think that I want to be a mentor to other girls who want to achieve their (Gold Award) projects,” she added.
It’s projects like Augusta’s that the library welcomes, as they allow the community to put their mark on the library, Purdy said.