In October 2011, Marriotts Ridge High School student Hannah Roberts told in this column how she earned her Girl Scout Silver Award by teaching preschoolers at her church, First Evangelical Lutheran in Ellicott City, ways in which they could worship using different talents and interests.

Now, Hannah, a 10th grader, has earned her Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. She again completed her project at church, this time by restoring an overgrown prayer garden.

Hannah began her project early last summer and recently finished after investing 103 hours of time. She also recruited and organized a wide range of volunteers, including adult and youth church members, students from the National Honor Society at her school, and children from First Lutheran's preschool.

Together, the older workers cleaned up trash and debris, cleared undergrowth, repaired man-made structures in the outdoor worship area, and planted new shrubs. The church youth painted a welcoming message on rocks lining the entrance to the garden, and preschoolers helped paint two birdhouses.


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One of Hannah's challenges was encouraging use of the garden, which had lain neglected for a long time. Currently, church youth and preschoolers benefit from the area on a weekly basis, and Hannah hopes to help lead worship services there once the weather warms.

In all, Hannah says that she learned a great deal from her project — everything from handling power tools and mixing cement to networking. She says, "The dedication that it required was enormous. I am so proud to have completed it [and] I know that this will be one of my accomplishments that will stay with me for the rest of my life. "

Great job, Hannah!

In other Scouting news, Cub Scout Troop 555 is forming for elementary school boys in the community. Interested parents can attend an open house on Tuesday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m., at St. James United Methodist Church, 12470 Old Frederick Road (Route 99), in Marriottsville.

For more information, contact Scoutmaster Mike Bostron at bostrons@comcast.net or 410-802-1286, or National Pike District Executive Gifford E. Hurt at 443-573-3515.

Question: Which creature can "freeze alive" in winter yet emerge unharmed, hear through its feet, has no vocal cords, and walked the earth with the dinosaurs? Answer: The common box turtle!

Join herpetologist Sandy Barnett to learn "Cool Things about Box Turtles" during the Howard County Conservancy's monthly Wonder Walk on Saturday, April 13, at 10 a.m. This free program will end with a walk to areas of the Conservancy where box turtles may live.

The Conservancy will also host its annual Art of Stewardship juried art show, reception, and auction on Thursday, April 18, at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $10 through Tuesday, April 16, or $12 after that date. To register online, go to http://www.hcconservancy.org.

Finally, join the Conservancy for its annual Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and spend the morning planting trees, removing invasive species, and performing other service projects.

Families and groups of all ages are welcome to attend. The Conservancy will offer a children's craft at 11:30 a.m. Additionally, the Howard County Bird Club will lead a bird hike at 8 a.m., and the Master Gardeners will sell plants throughout the event. Remember to bring a bagged lunch.

The address is 10520 Old Frederick Road (Route 99), in Woodstock, and the phone number is 410-465-8877.

On Saturday, April 13, the Howard County Office of Environmental Sustainability will host its sixth annual Greenfest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, in Columbia.

This year's free, family-friendly event is themed "Green Communities: Get up. Get out. Get Green." It will showcase the steps one can take, both at home and in the community, to make a difference in the environment. Go to http://www.facebook.com/HoCoGreenFest to learn more.

A countywide "20 Minute Cleanup" effort will also take place on Thursday, April 18. Simply go outside any time throughout the day and spend 20 minutes cleaning litter from the Howard County area of your choice.

Your efforts will help raise awareness about littering and keep our community looking good. Email 20minutecleanup@howardcountymd.gov for more details, or go to livegreenhoward.com/waste-recycling/community-cleanups-anti-litter-programs.