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Gold Award Girl Scout Paves a Path for Trail Enthusiasts


Between holding the position as a Cross Country Team Captain, Band President, Chapter Secretary for the National Honor Society, and ASB Representative for Knowledge Bowl, you’d think there wouldn’t be much time left for a high school senior to engage in other extracurricular activities. But for Maggie Ballew - there’s always time for trails.

Outside her many commitments to Selah High School and her community, Maggie has used her adoration for the outdoors and certified skills in sawing as a catalyst in earning her Gold Award, which represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. Known as the most prestigious award in the world for female youth – and the most difficult to earn – girls are challenged to use their projects as a means to change their corner of the world. Maggie has done just that.

“My favorite thing about Girl Scouts is how individualized it is,” she noted. “You can do anything you want with it.” Focusing on a community issue she cares about, Maggie was able to leverage her former experiences and relationship with the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) to make a difference.

Through frequent hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail amidst the Glifford Pinchot National Forest, Maggie noticed there was a deteriorated bridge crossing a creek near White Pass. Jumping into action, she collaborated with PCTA to recruit a crew of sawyers and swampers to join her in clearing the trail and building a new bridge. “In one day, we had 14 different volunteers helping out and learning how to cut and square decking for the bridge. It was an amazing learning opportunity for everyone,” she said.

Thanks to Maggie, the Pacific Crest Trail now features a newly reconstructed 13-foot-long bridge nearly three miles north of White Pass that is structurally stable, debris-free, and ready for traffic.

What will Maggie do next?” you may be wondering. Our research shows that Gold Award Girl Scouts go on to accomplish great things in their lifetime. They even report greater success in reaching their goals in several areas including education, career, and community aspects.

“Although the immediate task of constructing the bridge is complete,” said Maggie, “the newly trained sawyers will go on to do trail-related work for years to come. As for me, I’m in the process of applying to colleges and universities around the country. It is my dream to become a civil engineer and perhaps build a much larger bridge.”