TEWKSBURY — In addition to graduating with the TMHS class of 2020, Jessica Lisiecki capped off her high school and Girl Scout career by completing the Gold Award, a community service-based project which is considered the highest achievement in the organization.
Lisiecki, a scout since age eight, has always loved the outdoors, and her project inspiration came while attending a program at the Tewksbury Public Library.
“The Open Space group gave a presentation about the trails in town,” said Lisiecki. “I learned about so many new places to walk, some of which are right near my house that I never knew about.”
In order to complete the requirements of the award, Lisiecki was required to put in approximately 80 hours of work. Components of the project include investigation, research, involvement of others, sustainability, planning and education.
Lisiecki reached out to Bruce Shick of the Open Space and Recreation committee, along with town conservation agent Stefania Gallo, who was her community advisor, to determine what would be most helpful. Informational kiosks turned out to be the right choice, and Lisiecki worked with trail steward Ray Bowden and her grandfather, Robert Boyce to construct them.
Lisiecki had already completed a Silver Award with her troop, and was excited to go for the gold.
“I really wanted to link to the outdoors,” she said about her choice of Gold Award project.
As a companion to the work she did in the field, Lisiecki created an online resource called “Close to Home,” a website that provides outdoor activities for families to do with their children, shares plant facts, and links to the Open Space trail maps, among other features.
In total, Lisiecki and her team installed four kiosks; one at the Chandler Well Fields entrance at Whipple and Chandler Streets, two at the Livingston Street Recreation area, and one at Long Pond. Lisiecki also wanted to host a community event about trails through the Tewksbury Public Library, but COVID-19 got in the way. She decided that making her online resources more robust would be the best way she could still accomplish her outreach goals.
Lisiecki was supported in her Gold Award process by her troop leader Joyce Hamlyn.
Hamlyn, the Service Unit Coordinator of the Baldwin Unit of Girls Scouts for Tewksbury and Wilmington, led troop 66771 and said, “The Gold Award is the highest award a Senior or Ambassador Girl Scout can earn. I am so proud of Jessica for completing her Gold Award.”
Hamlyn went on to say, “Jessica had to overcome several obstacles due to the pandemic; having to adjust parts of her project so she could still meet the requirements and conform to COVID guidelines. I hope her website will be shared as there are many nature trails ‘Close to Home’ that we aren’t aware of.”
Lisiecki will be a freshman at Northeastern University this fall and will study biology. Her long term goal is to be a veterinarian.
Visit her “Close to Home” website at sites.google.com/view/closetohome.