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Improving the Lives of Outdoor Dogs: A Gold Girl Story

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Rachel “Maryn” Pope of Maryville partnered with Blount County Animal Welfare Society (BCAWS) to educate her community about the importance of providing doghouses to outdoor dogs. Her efforts resulted in her earning a Girl Scout Gold Award in 2022.      

Gold Award Girl Scouts are high schoolers who address issues they’re passionate about by planning and implementing a project that produces lasting change in the community and beyond. It is the Girl Scouts’ highest and most prestigious honor.

Maryn created, developed, and hosted PetPalooza, which raised awareness and funds for doghouses and kennels. She also built several doghouses and donated them to members of her community, sharing, “I have always been an animal person and wanted to make helping animals the focus of my project. Blount County Animal Welfare Society provides shelter, supplies and even vet care for dogs and cats living outdoors, so I decided to partner with the organization to improve the lives of outdoor dogs.”

She enjoyed getting to meet all the animals and help get them needed care, including working to find alternative solutions to dogs tethered by chains. “Many of the dogs had been chained for the majority of their lives, and when those chains came off, they would get so excited and start running laps around their new enclosure!”

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The BCAWS booth greeted vistors at the PetPalooza entrance.

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Maryn and her volunteers cut wood and assemble it into doghouses.

Along the way, she obtained experience in planning and organizing as well as directing people, and as manager of an event, learned firsthand how much responsibility that entailed. “I did all of the outreach to vendor organizations and spoke at the event, so I learned a lot about communication. On the day of the event, I was the one who answered all the questions that arose.”

She had to reschedule and make alternate plans for the PetPalooza event due to the pandemic, so being flexible was key. While PetPalooza was a fundraising event on its own, Maryn also raise funds for her whole project though collecting donations, and she applied for and receive a Joyce Maienschein Leadership Grant from GSCSA.

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Maryn's team of volunteers paint the newly-built doghouses. 

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Maryn poses with one of the finished doghouses.

She loves being with her two dogs and six cats, reading, drawing, and painting. Maryn is now a freshman at Maryville College. She hopes to own her own kennel and dog training facility one day.

Congratulations, Maryn! Visit girlscoutcsa.org to learn more about the Girl Scouts.  

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A happy recipient of a kennel and doghouse from Maryn’s project explores his new digs.