Allison Seitz says the thing she has loved most about her 13 years as a Girl Scout has been the chance to enjoy the great outdoors.
"I love the outdoors," said the Ellicott City resident. "We go to camp all the time, and it's always a lot of fun."
So when it was time for the member of Troop 528 to create a project for her Gold Award — the highest award a Girl Scout can earn — Seitz, 18, knew she wanted to leave a lasting gift to those who cherish nature.
Working with members of the Howard County Woodworkers Guild, Seitz planned and completed a project to make it easier for visitors to Robinson Nature Center in Columbia to identify bird species along the trails.
Members of the Woodworkers Guild carved lifelike birds of various species, and Seitz hung them along the trails at places where a particular bird would likely be seen. About a dozen birds are represented.
"We got to figure out which bird would go in which trees," she said. "There turned out to be two birds that I had never heard of: the Carolina wren and house finch. Now I see them all the time."
Members of the Woodworkers Guild, including Dave McCann, carved and painted the birds and donated them to the center.
"The Woodworkers Guild brings together people from all walks of life to share their woodworking skills," said McCann, who added that he was "pleased to be involved with a project that could utilize the carvings in a unique way, and allow families and individuals to enjoy them as they walk the Robinson trails."
Seitz, a recent Mount Hebron High School graduate, will attend Salisbury University this fall, with a focus on business management. She's been in Scouting since she was in kindergarten.
Meagan Leatherbury, program manager at the Robinson center, said the bird trail shows visitors the size of each bird, its coloration and the type of habitat in which it might be found.
She said the collaborative project fits well with the mission of the center to "connect people with the world around them."
"Our community partners and individuals like Allison and Dave make this mission very easy to achieve through their unique contributions to the center," Leatherbury said.
Seitz will share her passion for the outdoors on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 10 a.m. in a presentation at the nature center about the project.
The Robinson Nature Center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free Wednesdays. Information: 410-313-0400 or http://www.howardcountymd.gov/robinsonnaturecenter.htm.