Kaitlyn Greenough has nurtured a curiosity about nature and love of the outdoors since she was very young.
She also began her lifelong relationship with girl scouting at an early age. As a matter of fact, she was in kindergarten when she became a Daisy scout.
Her love of nature and of scouting both have shaped her life, and offered her opportunities to get involved in volunteer work in the community.
Greenough recently received accolades for the work she has done, as a Girl Scout and a conservationist, to teach elementary-age children about water conservation.
The 20-year-old spent about 130 hours, over three years, researching and designing a water conservation course in her quest for a Gold Award, the highest honor bestowed on a Girl Scout.
She taught the course at Crystal Springs Preserve, a 525-acre sanctuary in Pasco County. For years, she attended summer camps at the preserve. She began volunteering there when she was 8.
In July, the Florida Wildlife Federation name Greenough the Youth Conservationist of the Year. The award was bestowed on July 15 in Bradenton.
“It’s the coolest award I’ve ever gotten,” said Greenough, the Zephyrhills High graduate who is now a junior at the University of South Florida.
A few months earlier, Greenough and other area Girl Scouts received their Gold awards from the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida.
The Gold Award honors extraordinary leadership and community involvement by scouts in ninth through 12th grades.
Greenough also received a lifetime membership in the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
The young woman treasures the experiences she had through the Girl Scout program.
“It’s about empowering women, and I really like that the exposure is generational,” she said. “You want to have women with power, and give them opportunities to just bond and grow.”
Friends and family sat in the audience at the banquet in Bradenton, as she received the state award from the wildlife federation.
Zephyrhills’ Mayor Gene Whitfield also surprised her with a proclamation from the City of Zephyrhills.
Diane Hines, spokeswoman for the federation, said Greenough imparted her knowledge to young people. “She was able to teach others about the importance of protecting our rare, fresh water springs.”
Located near the city of Zephyrhills, Crystal Springs Preserve allows visitors to step back into old Florida, and enjoy wooded trails, butterfly gardens, a wildlife pavilion and educational programs on preservation of the natural environment.
Crystal Springs is the source for Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water, which is bottled and sold nationwide.
Greenough began researching the springs at the preserve nearly three years ago. She then crafted a course where students could build their own small watersheds in a sandbox. They also toured the preserve and learned about its history, plants and wildlife.
She is working on her studio arts major at USF, but Greenough still thinks about a future with Girl Scouts.
“In the future, I’m definitely going to volunteer,” she said.
Published August 31, 2016