By Crystal O’Gorman
CHARLOTTE – The rise in construction in south Charlotte along with downed trees from fall storms left Girl Scout Troop 2700 concerned about nesting locations for birds. They decided to use this opportunity to make a difference. Along with the support from Troop Leaders Lisa Riter and Jennifer Smith, the Scouts decided to build and put up birdhouses all over south Charlotte for their Bronze Award.
Junior Girl Scouts are required to obtain the Bronze Award before transitioning to Cadette.
“All the girls love animals,” Lisa Riter said. “Between the cutting down of trees and having a few baby birds fall out of trees being brought to our attention, the girls wanted to take action.”
The troop named their Bronze Award project Birdhouses for Ballantyne. Since last fall, nine fifth-grade girls have built and painted 150 birdhouses. The birdhouses were built for small birds such as wrens and chickadees.
Riter said each girl is required to contribute 25 hours to the project – totaling at least 225 collective volunteer hours spent on this project.
The troop partnered with Home Depot for the supplies and birdhouse design. They raised money for this project by selling Girl Scout cookies last year as well as making financial contributions themselves. Home Depot also donated some supplies.
Riter said the community has embraced Birdhouses for Ballantyne.
“They have been very supportive – posting on Facebook and asking to have birdhouses in their yard,” Riter said.
The troop has placed birdhouses at Elon Park, Polo Ridge and Hawk Ridge elementary schools. There are birdhouses in Southampton, Southampton Commons, Stone Creek Ranch and Kingston Forest subdivisions. The Scouts have also reached out to businesses and nursing homes in the area.
The girls are very proud of their accomplishments and learned a lot along the way.
Julia Riter said she realized how much her work on this project will make a difference.
“I made an impact on my community and helped the world around me,” Julia said.
Lauren Smith said she was happy to connect more with troop members and learn about the good work they were doing by building homes for birds.
Troop 2700 will receive their Bronze Award on Saturday, May 20 – as they symbolize the transition to Cadette by walking over the bridge in Ballantyne Corporate Park’s Cullman Park. The Girl Scouts mission is “building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.”
Lisa Riter said Birdhouses for Ballantyne will beautify the community and has also elevated the values held by this organization. She said the project has also made a positive impact on the girls.
She said some of the girls had never picked up a tool before starting to construct the birdhouses. It was special for her to see how the project transformed them. Riter felt grateful being able to help the girls feel empowered.
“As a mom and someone into girl empowerment, it was great to see the girls overcome fears, pick up a hammer and build something.”