Girl Scouts Fight Own Council to Preserve Forest

Jan 18, 2024

Thought Question: If you had the power to make a positive change in your community, what cause would you choose to address, and how would you go about making a difference?

President John F. Kennedy once said: “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” Girl Scout Nethra Purushothaman of Fairfax, Virginia, is a great example of that.

When the 15-year-old learned that her local Girl Scouts council was planning to sell 537 acres of forest in Prince George's County, Maryland, Nethra and fellow scouts from Troop 153 launched a campaign to stop the sale. Nethra knew the forest from a camping experience. She didn’t want to see it bulldozed.  

Even though none of them had any advocacy experience, they succeeded. Last week the land was sold for $12.6 million to a state park planning commission. It plans to preserve the forest. It took the scouts a year to achieve that victory

“When these girls learned that a cherished forest was under threat of development, they challenged the adults making those decisions to reconsider,” said the Chesapeake Conservancy in a prepared statement. “They weren’t afraid, and they didn’t take no for an answer … This story proves that with courage we can do hard things.”

Nethra and her friends started with an online petition drive. It gathered 3,500 signatures. They teamed up with other groups that supported the cause. One of them was the local chapter of the Sierra Club. They landed a meeting with their Girl Scouts Council of the Nation’s Capital. That seemed to mark a turning point. The adults in the room listened. 

“What you say and do, it matters. And if you try, you can get things done,” Nethra told The Washington Post. “It is possible when you use your voice and speak up, and maybe do something a little different, that the decision-makers will listen.” 

GIF courtesy of GIPHY.

The author’s purpose for writing this story is to _______. (Common Core RI.5.6; RI.6.6)
a. entertain readers with a captivating narrative
b. inform the audience about the history of the Girl Scouts
c. inspire and highlight the impact individuals can have through advocacy
d. persuade readers to join environmental conservation efforts
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