Above, Jan Yaeger of the Kenai Watershed Forum uses a "Wetland Model" to demonstrate the ways local wetlands work during Girl Scouts World Thinking Day, held at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Building in Kenai on Saturday. The theme of this year's event was water. Below, Beverly Dean, who presented on Australia, holds up a map during her discussion.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Several girls, ages 5 though 13, got together in Kenai on Saturday morning to learn about the ways water shapes the channels of life for people, plants and animals, not only here in Alaska, but in distant countries as well.
It was all part of "Girl Scouts World Thinking Day," which gives girls a chance to think about worldwide issues, celebrate international friendships, and serves as a reminder that Girl Scouts of the USA is part of a global community one of 144 countries with Girl Scouts organizations or Girl Guides, as they are known in some countries.
This year, girls voted and selected Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Italy and Madagascar as the five regions they wanted to learn more about, and local individuals who have firsthand knowledge of one of these countries were invited to speak.
"Each of our presenters has either lived, worked, or visited one of these countries," said Carrie Henson, service unit manager for Central Peninsula Girl Scouts, which is roughly 250 girls strong.
Jan Yaeger of the Kenai Watershed Forum uses a "Wetland Model" to demonstrate the ways local wetlands work during Girl Scouts World Thinking Day, held at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Building in Kenai on Saturday. The theme of this year's event was water.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Presenters also related their discussions or activities to the World Thinking Day theme, which this year was water.
Girls learned about the ways water creates forests for lemurs in some parts of Madagascar, how Australia's seven-year drought is effecting livestock ranchers down under and the ways water allowed early Egyptian's to grow papyrus, which served as paper for one of human civilization's earliest written languages.
"It also gets the girls thinking internationally, about girls in other countries and what issues they have with water," Henson said.
"In some parts of Africa girls don't go to school because it takes them five hours to get water. It's important that the girls (here) know about these issues so they can get involved to do something about it," she added.
While much of the day focused on international water issues, organizers of the event also wanted to include local discussion as well, so the Kenai Watershed Forum also presented at the event. With their "Wetland Model" a diorama which included several natural and artificial structures they were able to demonstrate the ways local wetlands work.
"It simulates the function of wetlands in nature and shows why wetlands are important to the filtration of water, but it's very visual, with the buildings and roads, so the kids get it with this stuff. They can really wrap their heads around it," said Josselyn O'Connor, a representative of the Kenai Watershed Forum.
In the end, Henson said she believed the girls in attendance had learned a lot during the day because not only did presenters discuss different areas of the world, but they also did so in their own unique way. Some were storytellers, another had books and maps, some used a computer to show a slide show of their trip and another brought artifacts.
"They were all really good," she said.
With so much knowledge gleaned, Henson said she hoped the girls would be inspired to take action on some component of what they had learned.
"We hope it gets them thinking globally, and acting locally," she said.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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