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Lara Watrous earns Gold Award September 2016 for "Nay"borhood Awareness

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Hopatcong Girl Scouts Troop 80400 is proud to announce that Lara Watrous has earned her Gold Award September 2016  Her project was "Nay"borhood Awareness.

As a Gold Award recipient, Lara is part of an elite group of women. Only 5-6% of all Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award.

Starting in 1916, the best and brightest undertook projects that improved their communities—and the world. The Golden Eaglet insignia, the highest award in Girl Scouting from 1916 to 1939, marked the beginning of a long tradition of recognizing the extraordinary efforts of extraordinary girls. From 1940 to 1963, the Curved Bar Award was the highest honor in Girl Scouting. From 1963 to 1980, the highest award was called First Class. And since 1980, the Gold Award has inspired girls to find the greatness inside themselves and share their ideas and passions with their communities.

How Lara fulfilled the Gold Award Requirements

She did complete a Girl Scout Senior Girltopia journey and earned her Silver Award which included a year's worth of projects honoring the 100 Anniversary of Girl Scouts with her entire Troop of 12 girls in 2012 . In 2114 she and her family moved from Hopatcong to Alexandria so she could pursue veterinariary sciences at Delaware Valley Regional High school for her Junior & Senior years. She stayed very active in her Hopatcong Girl Scout troop.

Once these steps have been met, Lara used her vision for change to complete a service project that reached beyond the Girl Scout organization and provided lasting benefit to her larger community. It required a minimum of 80 hours of work in planning and actually completing the project. All of these hours were completed by Lara, and though it is encouraged that  she use troop members and others from the community to help her, their time spent does not count towards her 80-hour requirement. Plans must be developed with the aid of her advisor Chris Baxler, Director of Riding with HEART, programs@ridingwithheart.org, then a project proposal must be submitted and approved by GSNNJ  before starting her project, and a final report submitted and approved after the project's completion. Lara had over 164 hours in her project. She had girls from her troop help her canvass the neighborhood before and after her event.

Her project, "Nay"borhood Awareness was aimed at raising awareness for a therapeutic riding facility called Riding with HEART (RwH). It is located on the back of a development, Alexandra Estates in Alexandria NJ. Most of the residents were not aware of RwH especially when using a walking trail that runs next to the facility and riding ring. Many people unintentionally spooked the horses which can be dangerous for all, especially for the person riding the horse who is dealing with mental and/or physical disabilities. Lara wanted to educate the community on the organization literally in their backyard and teach them the proper way to approach the riding ring while it was in use. This would, hopefully, benefit both RwH and the Alexandria community as they would learn to live symbiotically. She designed and built an obstacle course for their spring horse show. She canvassed Alexandra Estates with the help of her troop to invite the neighborhood to learn about them. She created signs for the walking trails to alert them of the riding ring ahead. For more information please visit www.Facebook/RwHGoldAward.

Lara is attending Rutgers with her eye on becoming an Veterinarian. 

Her recognition ceremony was part of a final bridging event for 6 members of Troop 80400 Ambassadors to become adult Girl Scouts. It took  place on Thursday December 29th 2016 at the Senior Center In Hopatcong NJ 07843 at 6:30pm.

Lara Watrous was given a proclamation from Hopatcong Mayor Mike Francis. Dec 29th 2016 is Lara Watrous Day in Hopatcong NJ. She received 20 congratulatory letters from dignitaries like Bernard Sanders, former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, Governor Chris Christie, Senator Lance and others including Gloria Steinem. She will receive her actual pin at the official ceremony at Girl Scouts of Northern NJ  in February.   

6 girls from Troop 80400 bridged from Ambassadors to being Adult Girl Scouts . Morgan Anderson, Jacqueline Harvey,  Abigail Radler, Rachel Yuroshek, Lara Watrous and Veronica Pollack. Combined they were Girl Scouts for 70 years.

Together they ran over 30+ programs &  events for the  Hopatcong Service unit over the years. They created new events based on Harry Potter and Pixar. They earned their Silver Award in 2012 by doing 6 different events over the course of a year celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts.

Over the years Troop 80400 varied in size to 15 girls to graduating with 6 girls. We spent hours together learning, leading and enjoying each other while partaking and running events. It has been an amazing 13 years and we are very proud of all we have accomplished so much while following the Girl Scout laws during the full adolescent and teen years.

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