West Hartford Girl Scout Takes on ‘The Spicebush Project’ to Earn Gold Award

Victoria Rozario. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Victoria Rozario, a junior at Hall High School, is looking for volunteers to help with an improvement project at West Hartford’s Spicebush Swamp.

Courtesy of Victoria Rozario

By Ronni Newton

Victoria Rozario is in her 11th year of Girl Scouts, working toward her Gold Award – an achievement earned by only 5 percent of those who participate in Girl Scouts at the ambassador (high school junior and senior) level – and to earn that award, she’s completing a project that has been her dream for many years.

When it came time for Victoria, a junior at West Hartford’s Hall High School, to finalize what to do to for her Gold Award, she already had a project in mind. In fact, she had been dreaming about this project since sixth grade.

“I’ve known about Spicebush Swamp since fourth grade,” Victoria said. “Every year [West Hartford Public Schools] fourth graders go there for the water cycle unit.”

After that initial field trip, she continued to regularly visit Spicebush Swamp Park on Mountain Road, and enjoyed hiking on the trails, but noticed that they were falling into disrepair.

Her Gold Award project will restore about a mile of the existing trail in the park. Parts of the trail are now just 3-4 feet wide, and she is hoping that volunteers will be able to prune back trees and underbrush to make the path closer to 8 feet wide.

A second group of volunteers will add stepping stones so that hikers can more easily navigate the boggier areas of Spicebush Swamp.

Victoria said she is hoping to have 40 volunteers sign up for “The Spicebush Project” on Saturday, May 19. The first group of 20, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., will remove debris and widen the path. The second group will work from 1:30-4 p.m., and will lay the stones. About 20 volunteers have already signed on to help.

Victoria’s role, in order to earn her Gold Award, is to act as coordinator of the entire project. She also had to create a budget and find a way to finance it.

“I originally set a goal of $1,000,” Victoria said, but said she then “micromanaged” the numbers and was able to reduce the budget to closer to $400. A total of $220 was raised by selling tie-dye t-shirts that say “The Spicebush Project,” and she applied to Girl Scouts of America and received a $200 grant for the rest.

“The Gold Award really teaches you a lot about yourself,” Victoria said. It teaches leadership, budgeting, and communication skills.

She said she’s hoping to eventually study law, and the communications and deadline-setting skills she has learned through this project will be very valuable.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the May 19 event should visit The Spicebush Project website to register. There will also be a mandatory informational session on Wednesday, May 16, from 5-6 p.m. at the Noah Webster Library in West Hartford Center.

“It’s a great natural resource,” Victoria said of Spicebush Swamp Park. She’s hoping that her project will give others the incentive to visit, to get outdoors and hike.

Any questions can be directed to Victoria Rozario at [email protected] or 860-796-7652.

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