A Hamilton woman put her passion for the environment to good use, improving her region while also earning her Gold Award, the highest award achievable in Girl Scouts.

Megan Reger, 18, is a rising sophomore at Purdue University in Indiana, and earned recognition for creating a pollinator-friendly garden and Girl Scout badge class for her project.

Hamilton resident Megan Reger holds her Gold Award certificate, which she received July 10, 2020 for “Project Pollinator,” a garden for pollinators like bees and butterflies at Camp Ockanickon in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where she has worked as a counselor since she was 14.

Her objective for “Project Pollinator,” completed in 2019, included building a garden for pollinators—mainly butterflies and bees—at Camp Ockanickon in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where she has worked as a counselor since she was 14. Reger wanted to leave her mark on the grounds.

The second aspect of the project was educating the community on pollinators and their importance.

“When it came to my Gold Award project, I really wanted to do something environment based,” Reger said.

Reger completed her Bronze and Silver Awards along with her troop, paving the way for her taking on this solo project.

For the Bronze Award, her troop helped run and collect donations for a local Hamilton soup kitchen. It was during her work on her Silver Award, as a Cadet Girl Scout, when Reger started to really get into the environment.

She created a sign for a local pollinator garden that another Girl Scout she knew had created. She ended up presenting to a group about pollinators and their role in the environment.

The passion she found while working on her Silver Award ended up fueling her Gold Award project. She knew she wanted to build a garden of her own and decided the camp would be a natural fit for it.

Reger went on to select each plant for her garden, sticking to native plant life. She was forced to rethink her plant choice however when she came back after some time to find all her work eaten. She went back and researched deer-resistant plants that were also pollinator-friendly.

The second time around was a success.

During her year completing the award, Reger held an education course for about 30 Girl Scouts looking to achieve their Flower Badge.

The badge program was for Junior Girl Scouts and included teaching them about the plants and pollinators. She also provided guidelines and a pamphlet for those who wanted to start their own pollinator gardens.

“For that one [badge course] we talked about the importance of plants, of different pollinators, how plants are used as symbols in certain cultures,” Reger said.

Reger began her Gold Award as an Ambassador level Girl Scout, between her sophomore and junior years of high school, and submitted the paper work in May 2019—a month before she graduated with the Class of 2019 at Notre Dame High School.

She received her Gold Award officially with this year’s Girls Scouts of Central & Southern New Jersey class of recipients after submitting the required paperwork on her work.

“It was very exciting because it kind of wrapped everything up very nicely,” Reger said.

There is a seven-step process to become a Gold Award Girl Scout.

First, a Girl Scout chooses an issue to address with her project. The next three steps consist of extensive research, forming a support network and creating a plan. Once the plan is in place, it is presented to a Girl Scout council. When it is approved, the project is carried out and then shared to educate others of the completed work.

This year’s class of Gold Award recipients needed to submit their work by March. The Girls Scouts of Central & Southern New Jersey hand-delivered award packages to Gold Award recipients July 10. The delivery included a Gold Award pin, Gold Award patch, a certificate and letters from executives in the Girl Scouts. A virtual celebration was held July 17, featuring Historical Society of Princeton executive director Izzy Kasdin as its keynote speaker.

Part of the virtual ceremony included video clips from each Gold Award Girl Scout. They introduced themselves and shared what their project was about.

“It was nice that every girl you got to hear a little bit about their project and it was interesting to hear the impact the Girl Scouts was making,” Reger said.

Since achieving her Gold Award and lifetime status as a Girl Scout, Reger continues to spend the summer months maintaining the garden while she is home from college.

She started as a Girl Scout at the Brownie level when her mother enrolled her. Her mother saw the hiking and camping activities as a great opportunity for Reger.

One fond memory for Reger is a trip her troop took in high school to see the birthplace of the founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

“That’s one of my favorite parts of the Girl Scouts—is when we got to go on a little adventure,” Reger said. “So like hiking, camping. My favorite thing that we did was…we all took a trip down to Savannah, Georgia, to see the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low. So I got a lot of opportunities to go places and see things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do.”

Growing up in Hamilton, Reger attended Our Lady of Sorrows from kindergarten through eighth grade and went on to Notre Dame High School in Lawrence.

At Purdue University, she studies material science engineering. She credits her work in the Girl Scouts as part of the reason she decided to attend the Indiana college.

“It really helps me get more independence and more leadership,” Reger said. “So that way when I got to college, I was able to make that decision to go out to Indiana…I had that confidence that I would be ready to go that far away.”

Reger is involved with a STEM education club at college. She teaches children from kindergarten to fifth grade about the sciences through related projects.

“I really enjoyed that because I learned that I really loved teaching from that Gold Award,” Reger said. “And so I still get to do that even as a STEM major, teaching and helping people find what they love.”