Village Green resident and Towson High School senior Annie Wedgeworth is a voracious reader. She’s a dedicated member of Girl Scout Troop 4407. And she’s the daughter of a naturalist at Cromwell Valley Park. These important facets of her life aligned to inspire Annie’s awesome Gold Award project, unveiled on Aug. 18.
To earn a Gold Award, a Girl Scout must address a community issue that is important to her. Annie was troubled by statistics showing the percentage of people reading for pleasure declines each year, despite proven benefits such as stress reduction, improved sleep, increased empathy and improved memory.
“When I was little, I had a lot of fun reading and relaxing while my mom was working at the park,” Annie said. “I wanted others to have a similar experience.”
Her project, “Promoting Reading for Pleasure,” had three parts: Build a Little Free Library in front of the Nature Center at Cromwell Valley Park, organize a book drive (some books for the little library and some for the Maryland Book Bank) and conduct story hours at the park to garner enthusiasm for the library.
Annie met with Ranger Kirk Dreier, head naturalist of CVP, in the fall of 2017 for approval and input. Dreier suggested a design carved out of a tree log. Annie enlisted help from park volunteer Jerry Trout to tackle the design. Together, they decided that instead of carving, they would cut and reassemble a log. They worked with help from Annie’s dad, Ray Wedgeworth, to construct the unit, complete with a peek-a-boo door and a handle made from a natural knot. The library roof is made from recycled soda cans. It is a spectacular piece!
“One of the most wonderful parts of a big project like a Gold Award is how generous people are with their time and energy,” said mom Anne Wedgeworth. “Home Depot donated sandpaper, paintbrushes, polyurethane and hardware. Annie put fliers about the book drive in neighbors’ mailboxes around Village Green and before we knew it, she had collected more than 400 books. When she approached Jerry Trout for assistance, without hesitation he found her a log on his property and worked with her, teaching her to use power tools she’d never used before.”
“Earning a Gold Award was not an easy process,” Annie admitted, “especially during junior year when I had AP classes, SATs, a summer job and driver’s ed. But I’m glad I stuck with it. I learned a lot and it makes me happy to hear that people are so excited about it and its books.”
Visitors’ comments in the library journal include: “Thanks for encouraging the love of literature!”; “I love the Little Free Library and the bench to sit and read a book”; “I hope other parks will follow your lead”; and “Makes coming here even more happy than it already is!” It’s clear that Annie’s work is spreading the joy of reading.