Superheroes of the Sea: Lea B. Uses Oyster Shells as Natural Filters of Her Local Bay
To become a Gold Award Girl Scout, Lea developed the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration and an oyster recycling program. Oysters play a critical role in the ecosystem, filtering algae and pollution from the waters. Lea collected approximately 41,000 oyster shells, returning those shells to the Bay in reefs she constructed on the Layfette River in Norfolk, Virginia. Those shells filter more than 20 million gallons of water per day.
Lea established partnerships with local businesses and developed a campaign to increase public knowledge which has allowed this oyster recycling program to thrive. Local restaurants are actively participating in the program, with volunteers working at the collection center drop-off site that she constructed with her team at her local high school. The collection center is now promoted as a Virginia public drop-off location by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Lea’s interest in marine biology has sparked a project that will continue to preserve and improve the ecosystem in Chesapeake Bay for years to come. She took her passion, got the community involved, and put in the work to see her Gold Award vision come true. A true G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ through and through. Here’s what she had to say about her Gold Award project, and what Girl Scouting means to her!
Q: Why did you choose to do this as your Gold Award project? How did your interest in STEM get started?
A: When I was growing up, my grandparents had a house on the Outer Banks so we always went there. We went in the water, went to the beach, and rode on the boat. That sparked my interest in marine biology and nature. As I was trying to think of what to do for my Gold Award I thought of my interest in marine biology. After speaking with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation about their need for the oyster recycling program, I went into different seafood restaurants in my area and asked if they would like to participate in the program. I provided additional details on pickup and buckets for recycling oysters to the restaurants who were on board with the program.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you faced in completing your Gold Award project?
A: The biggest challenge was definitely getting restaurants to participate, because most of them didn’t want to have an extra bucket in the restaurant. Once we explained to the restaurant owners that the recycling program would help the health of the Chesapeake Bay significantly, they were fully on board with the idea.
Q: Where are you now, and what are your plans for the future?
A: I am going to be a junior in high school this coming year and I love doing Girl Scouts-related activities. I am on the swimming team and love going to the beach with my friends. When I go to college I definitely would like to study marine biology or biology and become a marine biologist in the future.
Q: What have you learned from being a Girl Scout?
A: Girl Scouts has definitely given leadership skills and helped me with my communication skills as well as given me lifelong friendships.
Q: Why do you think a program like Girl Scouts is important for today’s girls?
A: Girl Scouts teaches girls who they want to be by helping them find their interests.
Q: You were able to educate restaurants, get them on board, and still earn your Gold Award—that’s a huge feat. How has it changed the way you attack other challenges in your life?
A: After achieving my Gold Award and getting through the challenges of the project it has helped me learn about problem solving and leadership skills.
Q: Which part of G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker. Leader)™ do you most identify with?
A: Girl Scouts has brought out the go-getter in me by teaching me how to take action, face challenges, and try new things.
Q: Do you have any advice for younger Girl Scouts?
A: My advice to younger girls is to definitely stick with Girl Scouts, because it will change your life.