Sayville’s Girl Scout Troop 626 comprises three dedicated ninth-graders: Morgan Bissell, Kaylin Rutherig and Madison Smith. The trio recently completed work for their Silver Award by working with Sweet Briar Nature Center in Smithtown to create an attraction for their butterfly house.
The butterfly house, according to Hannah Bissell, co-troop leader with Laurie Rutherig, is one of the few areas on the preserve with a minimal charge that helps keep the place running. However, the “fairy village” opening attraction was in complete disrepair.
Attracted to the uniqueness of the project and required to reach out beyond their ordinary boundaries, the girls took on the project and stuck to it—putting in over 100 hours each over two years, talking to business owners, fundraising, cleaning up, building and installing. The award calls for 50 hours and a project that will last beyond the Girl Scout’s involvement.
“We are so proud of their dedication and perseverance,” said Bissell. “It’s not easy to keep 13 and 14 year olds interested in long-term community service projects.”
The girls first inspected the site, salvaged what could be kept, and started from the ground up. They researched durable building and roofing materials, settling on copper roofs, which were expensive, but after some fundraising, not impossible.
Ironically, after enough was raised, a local builder donated leftover copper scraps and even bent them into shape. The remaining money from what was raised, according to Bissell, will now go toward their next individual projects for a Gold Award.
Though their Silver Award has been granted, the girls have taken it upon themselves to continue the project by removing the seven structures and placing them into storage for the harsh winter months. Then, in the spring, the girls will reinstall the houses.
“It was a lot of work, a lot of hours, but it was worth it,” said Rutherig. “It made the kids happy and their parents happy to see them that way.”
“It was really awesome to see how excited the little kids got when they saw the fairy village,” added Bissell. “I remember feeling that way when I was little, about magic and stuff.”
They hope their creation will help draw more people into the butterfly house and continue to excite the children who visit.
“I really loved being a part of this project,” said Smith. “It makes me happy to know we helped the community.”