Saturday, September 29, 2012

100 Years of Science Event Conference

Today we attended the 100 Years of Science Event Conference at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ. The conference was hosted by the Girl Scout Councils of New Jersey and The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education, and sponsored by the PSE&G Foundation.

We worked with student volunteers from Stevens' Society of Women Engineers as well as Girl Scout volunteers on alternative energy experiments which included photovoltaic systems, solar water heaters, and wind turbines. There was also a panel of Stevens' women students who shared some of their experiences and answered some of our questions.

The 100 Years of Science Event Conference's keynote speaker was Dr. Pamela Conrad, astrobiologist and mineralogist in the Planetary Environments Laboratory of the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. We were honored to hear that she flew in from California last night and woke up at 3:30 a.m. this morning to drive up to Stevens to give the keynote! Dr. Conrad's presentation included stories of when she was a Girl Scout, and how she got two music degrees before deciding that she loved science also and followed that path later in her career. She encouraged us to follow our passions, no matter when in life the idea occurs to us. Dr. Conrad also spoke passionately about her expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica, and deep-sea exploration in a submersible. She is currently working with the Curiosity Mars Rover, and showed us very cool pictures which helped explain some of the discoveries.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Girl Scout National Headquarters, NYC

We took a trip to the Girl Scout National Headquarters in New York City. It is located at 420 Fifth Avenue, but the entrance is on 37th Street. The Girl Scouts of the USA are on several floors in this building.

The morning was filled with meeting people in different departments such as Older Girl Awards, where we discussed my Bronze Award and my visions for the Silver and Gold Awards. The woman in charge showed us the GSUSA website where they have Map-It, an online map that pinpoints award winners and a description of their projects. This online resource will come in handy when Silver Award planning time arrives.

We spent time in the Global department, where we discussed Girl Scouts Overseas and Global Girl Scouting.

We talked about the four World Centers, Destinations, Girl Scouts Overseas, and Girl Guides in other countries. We also examined gifts from visitors from other countries - there were so many! I also got to pick out a swap - a Girl Guide patch from Australia.

The Executive Offices were next, including a tour of the President's office and the office of the CEO Anna Maria Chavez. The offices were beautiful, especially the CEO's office! I received patches from both the CEO and President, and learned that the CEO's nickname is "Eagle 1," which she also uses on Twitter!

We also saw the first Girl Scout Banner

and the Girl Scout National Archives, which stays at a constant 64 degrees F in order to preserve the papers. This section is accessible by the public, and many use it for research.

The Girl Scout National Archives is in part of the Girl Scout Museum, which was opened in 1987, and contains materials, equipment, uniforms, and other memorabilia from the early years to present day.

We also spent time in Marketing and Product Development, looking at presentations of new packaging for nut containers and cookie boxes, and participated in a focus group about developing GS branded clothing and jewelry products. We also saw braille versions of The Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting, ate lunch in the cafeteria, and spent time (and money) in the GS shop. It was great to meet so many people and tour GSUSA - a fun trip!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Food Drive

I am organizing a Fall Food Drive for our service unit. We are collecting urgently needed items for our local food pantry from September 20 through October 18. We distributed a flyer to all of the troop leaders with the dates and list of food items being collected, and made a collection tote for food drop-offs. We will pick up food every few days and sort at our house. We will deliver the food donations after October 18 and report the total weight in pounds of our food donations.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Apple and Pumpkin Picking!

Today we went to the farm for apple picking! We had a hayride to the orchard, picked apples, and got three little pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. We walked around the farm and visited the animals, including a cute baby bunny. At the end of our visit we had homemade ice cream - it was delicious!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Great Girl Scout Hike 2012

September 15 - New Jersey:
Vernon, NJ - Rt. 517- Rt. 94 - Pochuck Boardwalk

We joined our Girl Scout council and hiked this section southbound (and northbound) out and back to the AT parking area on Rt. 94 in Vernon, NJ. We began in the cow pasture (yes there were cows out there!),

crossed the railroad tracks,


and continued on puncheons through wildflowers

and into the forest for a short while.

The AT continues on the Pochuck Boardwalk,

across a cool wooden suspension bridge,

 and on more boardwalk decking to Rt. 517.

It was a flat and easy walk for a couple of miles out and a couple more back again. In one of the swampy parts we saw turtles lined up on a log!

It was a nice weather day to walk on the AT, meet new friends, and have a great time!


August 19 - New Jersey:
Vernon, NJ (Wallkill River NWR to Rt. 517) - Pochuck Mountain

Today we hiked the AT southbound from Rt. 517 to the Liberty Loop Trail parking area. This hike was across Pochuck (Glenwood) Mountain in Vernon, NJ. We called this hike the "75th Anniversary" hike honoring the official 75th anniversary of the completion of the Appalachian Trail. The official anniversary is  August 14, 1937. The hike was about 7.5 miles which included some mileage to and from parking. We passed the Pochuck Shelter

which is smaller than the High Point shelter and also has a privy nearby and a picnic table as you can see (this is someone else's picture). This shelter is just off of the A.T.

Our next AT hike is from Rt. 517- Rt. 94 - the Pochuck boardwalk section - with our Girl Scout council!


July 29 - New Jersey:
Unionville, NY-Vernon, NJ (Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge):

Today we hiked northbound on the AT from Quarry Rd. to the Liberty Loop Trail parking area on Oil City Rd. at the Wallkill River national Wildlife Refuge, Vernon, NJ. It was a nice day with a high of 81 degrees. This photo is at a road crossing after the hill at Quarry Rd.

The walk was through forest, meadow, bog, and swamp with road crossings and some walking along the local roads. There were also a number of rock walls like this one that the trail crossed through.

After coming up a hill and around the bend we encountered some cow friends! One was on our side of the wall but it jumped back over to join the group. A fun surprise!

We walked downhill and met the farmer's brother and family picking wildflowers, and came to the road crossing with the cow sign and the marker for the organic farm. This was on the NY/NJ border.

 The AT continued on this pretty path of rocks, and along this meadow.

This view is from the Liberty Loop Trail part of the AT, northern section of Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. We had several heron sightings and heard frogs in this area.

We will walk this part on a future hike- this is where the AT continues off of the eastern side of Liberty Loop Trail, leading to Liberty Corners Rd. (Lake Wallkill Rd.).

This was a nice 6.x mile hike with a lot of flat parts- the time went by very quickly!


June 27 - New Jersey:
Rt. 519-Unionville, NY - "Pizza Hike"

We continued our hike northbound on the AT from Rt. 519 into Unionville, NY, approx. 6.7 miles which included walking from the parking area on 519 and from the road crossing at Quarry Rd. into the village of Unionville.

This hike included parts of the trail in woods as well as around beautiful fields and farms, and over barbed wire fencing by way of wooden A-frame ladders called stiles.

We discovered this view behind us when we arrived on top of a hill and turned around! That is High Point Monument in the distance.

We crossed 14 stone walls and several of these wooden bridges, one of which we were rerouted around due to what looked like storm damage.

Nearing the end of our walk we saw this sign for well water...

and we walked on puncheons like these through Vernie Swamp.

 Then we walked into town and ate at Annabel's Pizza...

and bought ice cream at the general store across the street.

We read on the internet that thru-hikers often stop at these places, and it was interesting to see what they experience here when passing through. While we were in Annabel's, we actually saw three hikers passing through town, but we didn't know if they were thru-hikers or section hikers. When looking in the general store for items that thru-hikers might buy, we discovered that they were out of peanut butter during our visit, so we hope that is re-stocked soon!


June 6 - New Jersey:
Rt. 23 Ranger Station, HPSP to Rt. 519

This part of the AT went from the HPSP ranger to Rt. 519, with great views of the High Point monument from the AT. There is a big wooden observation deck on this part also. This photo was taken on the top of a hill on the AT. Today's sky made this view dramatic.

Here is the High Point Shelter, on a side trail off of the AT (there is a privy behind the shelter but didn't take a picture of that).

This is a nice 3 mi. northbound walk that has some climbing and a lot of downhill with awesome views!


May 27 - New Jersey:
Deckertown Turnpike to Rt. 23 Ranger Station, High Point State Park

Today we hiked approx. 6.2 miles northbound on the AT. It was great to see this sign where we began at Deckertown Turnpike, which is the beginning of the High Point State Park section. We signed the trail register and began our walk. There was a lot of foliage covering parts of the path, and lots of rocks, mostly downhill, some flat spots, and some climbs.

Approximately 2.5 miles into our walk we came to the pipeline and had this beautiful view!

We encountered this forest friend at a brook crossing!

We met a number of backpackers hiking this section, both northbound and southbound, as well as a family with two little Girl Scouts who were tenting at Sawmill Lake! It was a great day for a hike - the sun came out and it was breezy and warm but not hot.


April 6 - Massachusetts:
Northern part of Mt. Greylock State Reservation to southern part of Clarksburg State Forest

We took a morning walk, approx. 5 miles, on this little bit of the AT in Northern Massachusetts. It was a beautiful day, chilly in the morning but grew warmer midday. There were sections of hemlock, paper birch, and oak on the Mt. Greylock part, along with boardwalk across wet sections. We went through the residential section, past the school, and over the steel footbridge over the river, up the street, and into the yard of a house on an easement that continued the AT on the Clarksburg State Forest part. There was a pretty brook just past the house- you'd never know it was there!