Local Girl Scout Athena Hartigan, of Troop 50136 of Greenwich Girl Scouts, achieved the Gold Award, a prestigious honor for Girl Scouts who have completed a rigorous self-initiative service project, for her work creating a Butterfly
Garden at the Greenwich Land Trust’s Wilson Orchard. According to Girl Scouts of the USA, each year, fewer than six percent of Girl Scouts receive the Gold Award, putting her in an elite group of scouts across the nation.
The butterfly garden will offer a place of respite for monarch butterflies on their annual 3,000+ mile journey to Mexico, where they roost for the winter in Oyamel Fir forests. The monarch population has been shrinking by 37-49% each year, due to a decline in milkweed and increase of pesticides. Butterfly gardens, such as the one Hartigan spearheaded for her service project, help protect the unique species from predators and
harsh weather conditions, in addition to giving caterpillars a place to cocoon.
Additionally, Athena’s garden will attract other pollinators, such as bees, who are also facing challenging environmental conditions. The plants should be fully bloomed by next summer.
“I’ve always loved butterflies so when I heard about their diminishing numbers, I wanted to help,” said Hartigan. “Over the course of 7 months, with the support of the Greenwich Land Trust, my troop leader, my advisors, and others, we were able to secure donations for the plants and encouraged four people to help plant the garden. Earning the Gold Award adds an extra level of fulfillment to this work, but the cause is important to me regardless and I hope monarchs, and our community, can enjoy this space for many years to come.”
An award ceremony honoring Hartigan’s work is scheduled to take place this month.
Hartigan has been known to go full force when she sets her mind to something. She has even demonstrated this go-getter personality selling Girl Scout cookies, being the top cookie seller of her Girl Scout Troop for the past several years. The money she makes while selling cookies allows her troop to fund giving back to the community and troop events.