By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Southborough – The Southborough Open Land Foundation (SOLF) recently presented a special award at its annual meeting to Kathryn Gowdy and Shannon Provencal of Girl Scout Troop 85160, both rising sophomores at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough. They were recognized for enhancing and raising awareness of Southborough’s hiking trails on their way to receiving their Silver Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.
While hiking the local trails, Kathryn and Shannon observed that some were overgrown and visited less frequently than others. To help improve and promote the trails, they organized and held a six-hour event called Hike Southborough Day last September with support from SOLF, Southborough Trails Committee and Chestnut Hill Farm. SOLF thanked the likeminded young residents for increasing local environmental awareness, noted Debbie Costine, its vice president.
“They’re a very good example for other young teens of doing something good for their communities,” Costine said. “We now have this ongoing concern that young people – in fact, all people – are spending very little time outdoors, and these two girls wanted to do a project that encourages hiking the trails in Southborough. They contacted SOLF and asked if we would lead a hike, so I was happy to do that for them.”
Hike Southborough Day featured guided tours of Beals Preserve, Chestnut Hill Farm and Sudbury Reservoir Trail. Prior to the event, Kathryn and Shannon organized a cleanup day to clear overgrown sections of the Sudbury Reservoir Trail.
They also helped publish new maps using the AllTrails app, built several new map boxes to replace rotted ones, created five new geocaches including information about the area’s history and geography, and approached Wegmans to donate snacks and water. Additionally, they met with two Cub Scout packs to share hiking guidelines.
To promote Hike Southborough Day, Kathryn and Shannon created a flier that got posted around town as well as on Facebook and Instagram, circulated to Girl and Boy Scout troops, and sent via the email list of the Southborough Recreation Department. They estimate about 150 people attended the event.
Costine commented, “Shannon and Kathryn seemed to be on top of everything. I was very impressed with their idea, their maturity and their organizational skills. They initiated phone calls, answered questions and followed up on everything. The event was a great success with many families attending.”
She also feels that publicly recognizing the Girl Scouts’ trails project with a special award helps SOLF communicate its mission.
“SOLF is a private nonprofit group with the mission to preserve and protect the natural resources of the town,” Costine said. “We are always wanting to increase interest in getting outside and exploring, not just for children but people of all ages. Shannon and Kathryn certainly achieved this by introducing so many families to the beautiful nature trails right in our own town and hopefully inspiring many to revisit the trails often.”
For more information about the Southborough Open Land Foundation, visit solf.org.