By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN The area outside the Delano American Legion is looking lovely lately, thanks to two hardworking Girl Scouts.
Amber Doboszenski and Emily Peterson spent a combined total of more than 200 hours creating the large veterans’ garden this past year.
“We both have family members who served in the military, and we wanted to give back,” said Peterson, whose father was in the Gulf War, and whose grandfather was in the Korean War.
Doboszenski’s grandfathers and cousins served in the military, as well.
As a result of their veterans’ garden service project, Peterson and Doboszenski will receive a Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor for a Girl Scout ages 14 to 18.
According to the Girl Scouts website, between 5 and 6 percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the prestigious award annually.
“A lot of girls don’t do it, because it’s a lot of work,” Doboszenski said. “You get busy and it’s hard to find the time.”
Doboszenski and Peterson, who recently finished their sophomore year at Delano High School, are involved in an assortment of extracurricular activities.
Peterson is a junior Confirmation leader and plays tennis and lacrosse, and Doboszenski is involved in youth group, dance, and volleyball. Both girls also participate in band and National Honor Society, and are active in their churches.
Despite their full schedules, the girls made earning their Gold Awards a priority.
“Do the Gold Award,” Peterson advises younger Girl Scouts. “It’s a great experience, and you’ll never forget it.”
The suggested minimum hours for a Gold Award service project is 80 hours individually.
“We started preparing for it in June of last year,” Peterson said.
After researching their options, the girls decided that a veterans’ garden would be a perfect way to recognize service men and women who protect America’s freedoms.
The girls presented their plan to the Delano American Legion and the Girl Scout Council, in order to obtain approval.
“They came to a meeting in December, and everybody seemed to like the idea,” Delano American Legion Post Commander Jack Lynch said.
Peterson and Doboszenski led the entire project from seeking donations from area businesses to selecting suitable plants for the site.
However, the girls said they wouldn’t have been able to do it without support from local organizations and other members of the community.
One unique feature in the garden is a path with stepping stones to symbolize the five branches of the military.
Fellow members of Girl Scout Troop 10898 helped create the color-coded stones, using red for the Marines and Coast Guard, blue and gray for the Air Force, green for the Army, and blue and white for the Navy.
The garden also includes a Korean Lilac tree dedicated in memory of Jim Poss, an Eagle Scout who passed away from cancer. Several years ago, Poss did a landscaping project in front of the Delano American Legion, as well.
Day lilies, peonies, rosebushes, junipers, and coreopsis, among other plants, are also featured.
“They did an outstanding job,” Lynch said. “It covers the entire front of the Legion.”
Doboszenski and Peterson have been in Girl Scouts for 11 years.
“We started as Daisies, in kindergarten,” Peterson said. Back then, the girls were in separate troops.
“I loved camping, being with friends, and meeting new people,” Doboszenski said.
As younger Girl Scouts, they both earned bronze and silver awards, as well. Those honors are similar to the Gold Award, but require less time.
Now that they are older, Peterson and Doboszenski enjoy being positive role models for the newer members.
“We used to participate in camp now we help organize it,” Peterson said. “I get to see the little ones go from what I used to be. They’re just in awe of what we do outside of Girl Scouts.”
To learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award, click here.