By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
BETTENDORF — Five members of Girl Scout Troop 4309 at Lourdes Catholic School recently earned Bronze Awards for their work creating a butterfly garden for Kahl Home in Davenport.
The Bronze Award is the third highest award in Girl Scouts and the highest that girls in grades 4-5 can earn.
Junior Girl Scouts earn the award by completing a Journey. Through a Journey, girls identify a problem, develop a sustainable, creative solution that will make a difference, create a team plan to make that solution a reality, put their plan into action and talk about what they’ve learned and what they’ll do next.
The Bronze Award project must be of service to the community and sustainable. Each girl must complete a minimum of 20 hours of work. Mollie Schmelzer, leader of the junior troop of then fifth-graders, said the girls put in about 40 hours each. Four of the girls attend Lourdes Catholic School, and one attends Bettendorf Middle School.
The idea to create a butterfly garden came about during a brainstorming session last August. “All the girls agreed it was a good idea” because they wanted to help senior citizens, Schmelzer said. They chose Kahl Home because troop member Lizzie Moldt’s grandmother is a resident. Lizzie participated alongside scouts Emily Giovannini, Ava Eck, Grace Roach and Sabrina Schmelzer. Their research included attending a Monarch butterfly release party at Nahant Marsh in Davenport and meeting with William Collier, a butterfly enthusiast and educator.
The girls discussed the benefits of attracting birds and other pollinators to the garden. While working with the Kahl Home staff, the girls decided on a rooftop garden, which will be maintained by the residents and staff. Since it was going to be on the rooftop, they did not have to worry about deer or other animals.
“They did avoid invasive species of flowers — ones that would spread and take over — choosing flowers that would work well together,” Mollie Schmelzer said.
The girls grew the plants from seed indoors and each girl was responsible for caring for their set of flowers at home throughout the spring. “They learned how difficult it can be,” Mollie Schmeltzer said. “Many of the plants did not survive, but they were able to transplant into 17 larger pots.” These pots, which the girls delivered to the Kahl Home, contained daisies, Mexican sunflowers, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans and lantana.
The girls also painted four cast iron stepping stones with Bible verses to be placed with the garden as encouragement for the residents. “The girls wanted the garden to be a place of inspiration and peace where the residents could spend time remembering their loved ones,” Mollie Schmelzer said.
After the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, the girls relied heavily on Zoom meetings as they worked to complete the project.
Pandemic-related visitor restrictions prevented the girls from transplanting the flowers themselves. Kahl Home staff took care of work that could only be performed on-site.
Scout Lizzie Moldt said, “It was important to me that the garden was about butterflies and located in the Kahl Home because Monarchs are actually an endangered species, and the Kahl Home was where my grandma was. I wanted to cheer up the Kahl Home residents.”
Sabrina Schmelzer said, “Things didn’t go the way we expected and the way we had planned because of the pandemic. But instead of giving up, we worked together and the Zooms helped us stay together.”
Emily Giovannini said, “I learned about all the kinds of plants that attract butterflies. I most enjoyed planting seeds as a group.” She hopes people at the Kahl home will smile when they see the stepping stones and plants “and remember that our troop wanted to do something special for them.”