Sandy Run Girl Scout Service Unit announces Gold Award recipients

The Sandy Run Service Unit, a part of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, recently announced three Gold Award winners for 2021.

Tara Shevlin, a 2021 graduate of Pennsbury High School and a member of Girl Scout Troop 2147, earned her Gold Award by completing a project focused on providing STEM opportunities for disadvantaged youth.

She designed a website designed to strengthen STEM skills and provide children in grades K-8 with an opportunity to promote their advancement in STEM studies.

Tara’s website (, the Steam Team, includes activities, worksheets, science experiments, and general information to help children achieve greater knowledge in STEM subject areas.

Additionally, Tara partnered with the Trenton, NJ CYO, where she gave several presentations to children on the negative impacts and corresponding effects of human activities on the environment, including pollution and global warming.

During the presentation, she introduced her website and taught the children how they could positively impact our Earth and what steps and measures they can take to keep it clean and sustainable.  Tara currently attends the University of Arizona.

Emma Smirk of Yardley, a 10th grader at Princeton High School and a member of Girl Scout Troop 2105, recently earned her Gold Award by completing a project aimed at addressing nature-deficit disorder in children and protecting our beloved parks.

Emma built a hammock garden at Tohickon Valley Park in Pipersville, which can be used for hammock camping or just for hanging hammocks.

Emma also created two videos that can be accessed by QR codes at her hammock garden ( and

The videos teach the seven “Leave No Trace” principles and teach how to use the hammock garden.

Emma hopes that her hammock garden inspires children, Scout groups, and families to explore the outdoors in a fun new way, while treating our parks with care so that they can be enjoyed by all for years to come.

Julia Cunningham of Yardley, a 2021 graduate of Villa Joseph Marie High School and a member of Troop 2147, earned her Gold Award by completing a project at the school.

She created a Prayer Garden and Prayer Book in memory of her classmate, Maria Middleton, who sadly passed away in October 2020 due to a brain tumor.

Maria’s devotion inspired all those around her, and she used her faith to guide her through her journey with cancer.

Julia’s Prayer Garden provides the Villa Joseph Marie community with an outdoor space to pray, reflect, meditate, and remember the impact Maria had on so many people.

Julia’s Prayer Book can be used to guide community members in prayer and meditation and to learn more about Maria, her journey, and the different life lessons to be learned from quotes written or spoken by Maria.

Julia’s garden has helped the community in so many ways and will continue to make an impact for years to come.

Julia currently attends Elon University.

In earning their Gold Awards, all three young women completed the Trifecta, collecting all three of Girl Scout’s highest awards – Bronze, Silver, and Gold!  

Earning one of the Girl Scouts’ highest awards challenges girls to be their best and develop, plan, and implement a Take Action project.

Gold Award Girl Scouts are making the world a better place.

The Gold Award, open only to Girl Scouts in high school, is the most prestigious and most difficult to earn award for girls in the world and requires a minimum of 80 individual hours (not man-hours) to complete.

In 2021, only 3500 girls in the nation earned the Girl Scout Gold Award.


  1. Tara Shevlin
  2. Emma Smirk
  3. Julia Cunningham
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