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  • Tara Crutchfield

Shout Out Girl Scout: Planting for Pollinators

Thirteen-year-old River Selser loves the outdoors. The 7th grader is in Girl Scout Troop #74811. She enjoys swimming, horseback riding, camping, playing with her cats, and paddle boarding.


“We are very active and love going camping and exploring the outdoors,” River said. “We even took a trip to Savannah, Georgia, last year and we went on a tour around the town. We went to Tybee Island and took a tour of the lighthouse! The whole troop had a great time!”


The Girl Scout aspires to work as a librarian and an air traffic controller when she’s older, perhaps with a bit of environmental work on the side.


Part of her love for the outdoors has anything to do with butterflies and bees. She’s done many small butterfly gardens in her backyard. “When I thought about my love for them, I wanted to do something to help them thrive!” she said.


River, who started Girl Scouts when she was five, is working towards her Silver Award – the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. The project she started to earn the award is called “Planting for Pollinators” (P4P).


She is working to raise funds for signage and a pollinator-friendly garden at Michael V. Lewis Arboretum in Winter Haven. According to River, “Pollinators like butterflies and bees are declining due to habitat loss and food source reduction. Pollinators depend on a wide variety of plants, trees, and shrubs. When people build neighborhoods and install mono-culture (one type of plant like grass-only) yards, they reduce and sometimes destroy the plant diversity needed to support pollinator populations.”


The two signs she plans to install are first to educate the public on pollinators and what they do. The other is to inform the public about some Floridafriendly and pollinator-friendly plant choices that people can include in their yards.


River’s target audience is visitors of all ages to the nature park near her home. “Park visitors currently enjoy hiking trails at Lewis Arboretum while enjoying the natural area. Providing informational signage and a demonstration planting garden to promote pollinators and pollinator-friendly plant choices will passively educate my target audience on ways that they, too, can make a difference by planting for pollinators.”


“The plants selected for the demonstration garden are Florida-friendly, drought tolerant, low maintenance, easy to source or propagate, and have the potential to attract a diverse variety of pollinators. Currently, plants that we are considering include fire bush, dutchman’s pipe vine (maypop), milkweed, and beautyberry to be part of the change,” said River. “The two signs (one: pollinators of Central Florida and the other: pollinator plants of Central Florida) will be installed at the trailhead of Lewis Arboretum, where the demonstration pollinator garden will be planted. These signs will last up to (and possibly more than) 10 years while educating park visitors on the importance of Central Florida pollinators and plants. The demonstration garden itself will demonstrate to park visitors several examples of CentralFlorida Friendly pollinator plants that are available for use in their own residential, commercial, and schoolyards. It is my team’s hope that park visitors may select a plant or two from the demonstration garden to purchase and install in their own yards to support pollinators of Central Florida.”


The land on which she is planting and adding signage is owned by Green Horizon Land Trust, which works to preserve and protect environmentally sensitive lands along the Lake Wales Ridge. If you or someone you know would like to support Green Horizon Land Trust and Planting for Pollinators, visit www.greenhorizon.org to donate.


“Earning my Silver Award will mean that I helped better the community around me for future generations and that I helped educate the public about the importance of pollinators and planting pollinator-friendly plants,” said River.


Photograph provided

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