The first nationally recognized Girl Scout hiking trail opened recently in our neck of the woods! The mile-long Juliette Gordon Low trail, planned by Girl Scout Ambassador Ellie Leonard to commemorate the founder of the Girl Scouts, was celebrated October 29 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and inaugural walk at West Winds Metropark in Holland.
Leonard, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of New Hampshire, has been a member of the Toledo Girl Scouts since she was 5 years old. She built the trail for her gold award project, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. Moved by a strong passion for hiking and camping, Leonard wanted to make certain other Girl Scouts were inspired to be actively involved in the outdoors. “I also want to make sure they know that if they are willing to try, they can create positive change in the world,” Leonard shared.
Help from friends and family brings a dream to life
Leonard credits her family and Toledo’s Girl Scout Troop 10407 as an incredible help in both physically clearing out the trail and being a support system throughout the whole process. “My Girl Scout council …helped me connect with different people to bring everything together. The Metroparks staff helped guide me in learning about the process of clearing and creating a trail; they were more than happy to help me put the trail in, and were an immense help along the way. Preparing the area for the trail began with clearing the woods. We pulled an obscene amount of garbage out, something I was lucky enough to have volunteers help with. The trail was then cut by the park,” Leonard said.
Recognizing a young leader and positive role model
Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson presented Ellie Leonard with a Proclamation recognizing the outstanding achievement and its effect on the well-being and growth of the Toledo community.
“I am honored to be here today. This is exciting because of the leadership displayed by a young person,” said Mayor Hicks-Hudson. “This young woman decided to connect with the historical origin of the Girl Scouts. Ellie is a wonderful example of leadership among young people in our community. I like to say young people are not our future, they are our present.”
Leonard urged, “For young leaders or those who would like to make a difference…it is definitely possible. If they think they have an idea they should pursue it. There is a lot of hard work involved in bringing ideas to life, but all of the hard work is worth it.” Kudos, Ellie!