Ashley Mermolia, Amanda Ballbach and Kelsey Wigand won't likely go on to be professional gardeners or a landscape architects when they graduate from Muskego High School in about four years. However the three girls, who are freshmen from Girl Scout Troop 2655, worked together to beautify the Bay Lane Middle School garden, earning a Silver Award.
The honor is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn, but it requires a lot of planning, organization and commitment of time and materials. The award mandates a minimum of 50 hours of work and must be something that will benefit the community. However, the girls went above and beyond.
"It was more like 110 hours of work that we all put in and I couldn't believe how difficult it was to get rid of the weeds," said Ballbach. "The garden was overgrown with a lot of burdock and other weeds and we first weeded by hand to remove the weeds. We had come back just a couple of days later, and it looked like it was all coming back."
Then they applied herbicide, and with some help tilled the ground to break it up and make it easier to work with. Once cleared, the task was to plant, but they realized that buying the flowers and mulch would be more costly than their $200 would allow, so a letter campaign asking for donations of materials was begun.
With donations from Lamb’s Nursery, Wal-Mart, Steins, Russ’s Tree Service, Elliott’s Ace Hardware, the Muskego Woman’s Club and KHS Inc., planting could begin, but a hot and dry summer was a challenge to the plot's survival.
"It was a hot hot summer and keeping everything watered was probably the hardest part of the project," said Kim Winkowski-Ballbach. "The girls did run into a few problems, such as a broken stone but with a lot of labor and teamwork, they got through it. After it was all said and done, the girls finished their project and the garden is looking better than it ever has."
Now the garden is back to beautiful, and the legacy of their hard work hasn't been lost on the grade school troop at Bay Lane.
Girl Scout Troop 4224, made up of 5th graders, will make sure the garden gets a lot of water and make sure the weeds stay away. They even plan on making some stepping stones to add to the ones found as their first project for the garden.