Girl Scout Troops from French Creek and Rock Cave gather for a group photo with Samantha Nygaard, the West Virginia Program Manager with the National Parks Conservation Association (far right), and Trevor Moore, wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Wildlife Center, who also brought along the famous French Creek Freddie mascot. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

Local Girl Scout troops learn about conservation as they plant trees in Southern Upshur County

BUCKHANNON – Two local Girl Scout troops planted 50 trees this week in honor of the Girl Scout Tree Promise.

The French Creek Elementary School Girl Scout Troop 35017 and Rock Cave Girl Scout Troop 10541 convened at French Creek Elementary School Wednesday afternoon to plant trees and participate in activities provided by the West Virginia Wildlife Center and National Parks Conservation Association. Adrienne McVey, leader of the French Creek Elementary Girl Scout Troop, said the project came about after the girls expressed interest in conservation and planting their own trees.

The Girl Scouts plant trees at French Creek Elementary School. (Photos by Jeremiah McCourt)

“Our girls are really concerned with helping the environment in any way they can, so we did a lot of activities about how trees help us and everything around us,” McVey said. “We want to teach them about honoring our trees, planting trees and protecting the trees that we currently have.”

The Girl Scouts launched an initiative in April 2021 called the ‘Girl Scout Tree Promise’ with the goal of planting 5 million trees in five years. The project opted to focus on trees because of the value they provide by capturing carbon dioxide, removing air pollutants and filtering water.

“We have 50 trees allotted to this project, so between the ones we plant here at the school, and the ones each girl is going to take home, that’ll be 50 trees that are planted in our community,” McVey said. “I think other Girl Scout groups in our county would love to do this as well, just as a way they can get involved with the environment and involve community agencies, which is important to us as well.”

Samantha Nygaard, the West Virginia Program Manager with the National Parks Conservation Association, was invited to help organize the event and discuss the importance of conservation.

The scouts participate in a program led by Moore and Nygaard. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

“We’re so lucky in West Virginia to have public lands all around us,” Nygaard said. “Even though we’re not near a National Park, we can still celebrate our National Parks, enjoy a beautiful day like today and plant some trees so they can earn their tree promise patch.”

Jeremiah McCourt, the Upshur County Parks and Rec Director, said the trees were given to the scouts by the Buckhannon-Upshur High School agriculture department and the FFA.

“A program gave the high school 200 total trees, and the whole purpose is to distribute them throughout different areas and communities in the county,” McCourt said. “The B-UHS agriculture department is going to get a $500 donation from the state after all the trees are planted.”

McVey said her troop will be doing more community service projects and learning about nature throughout the summer.

“We’re going to be partnering with the Parish House — we’re doing a canned food drive along with a skating party — and we’re also going to be headed to the West Virginia Wildlife Center,” McVey said. “They’re going to help us earn some badges this summer.”