Girl Scout wins award educating about honeybees
MIDDLEBURY — A Vermont student’s campaign to help her local honeybee population has earned her the highly coveted Girl Scout Gold Award. Carolyn Balparda, a senior at Middlebury Union High School, said her goal is to educate her neighbors and peers, while working to make Addison County more hospitable to honeybees.
Balparda embarked on her project, “Honey Bee Help in Addison County,” in early 2014. A Girl Scout since the first grade, she said it was extremely concerning to learn that three of her region’s bee species were threatened or endangered. “My community is very big on agriculture and if we were to lose our bee population, the local orchards would take a huge hit,” Balparda said. “So would our economy. So it’s important to share this message with the next generation.”
Researching the topic further, Balparda consulted with the Vermont Beekeepers Association, where she realized the devastating implications a potential extinction could bring. “Without our striped friends, there are over 90 different food sources worldwide that would be severely depleted or even disappear,” she said.
After meeting with area beekeepers and plant enthusiasts, Balparda was relieved to learn that some simple actions could result in a positive change to Vermont’s pollinator populations. For instance, planting the common Dutch white clover can prevent honeybees from going hungry, she noted.
In late April 2015, Balparda shared her findings with first-graders at Mary Hogan Elementary School, teaching them some bee basics and sending them home with individual packets of bee-friendly flower seeds. An editorial penned by Balparda was published in several local papers in July. She also created an educational video she’s hoping to distribute to local television stations. The video is currently available for viewing on YouTube. A longtime summer counselor at Girl Scouts’ Green Mountain Day Camp, Balparda also shared her message with her group of campers this past season.
Balparda said she hopes to one day become a clinical psychologist and work with children in need. She noted that her years spent in Girl Scouts have strengthened her interpersonal skills and ultimately made her a leader. “Being a Girl Scout helps you connect with other girls and form lasting relationships,” she added.