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Girl Scout working to create native Ohio garden

2/25/2010 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Nina Parri
Photo courtesy of the Parri family
FAIRLAWN — Nina Parri is going for the gold. The 16-year-old Archbishop Hoban High School sophomore is working on building a garden and interactive information board for the Fort Island/Griffiths Park Learning Resource Center in order to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a participant may receive.

In developing the project, Nina, a member of Girl Scout Troop No. 870 in Fairlawn, met with the center’s naturalist, Lisa Warner, to research Ohio native plants for the garden and to create an interactive board.

Warner said the garden will contain mostly native plants but others as well.

“We hope the community and the public will be able to learn more about these plants,” said Warner. “We also hope they will attract native wildlife such as birds [and] butterflies, which the public can learn more about, too.”

Warner said Nina hopes to have the garden, which will measure about 20 feet by 20 feet and be located behind the center, completed by fall.

The interactive board will be constructed inside the center and include a display box of leaves and seeds from the plants, as well as fun facts about each plant to be printed on laminated cards. Visitors will be able to test their knowledge of native plants using these cards.

Funding for the project will come in part from the sale of Girl Scout cookies.

Nina said she has until March 21 to raise money for her project through cookie sales.

So far, Nina has sold about 500 boxes to generate $390 in profit for the project. She needs to sell at least 1,000 boxes to raise the estimated $1,200 cost of the garden and interactive board, she said.

“If people want to help but don’t want all the cookies, I will donate them to Gennesaret Inc., an Akron soup kitchen on Exchange Street,” said Nina.

Anyone interested in buying Girl Scout cookies to help her raise funds for the project may call (888) 984-4664 and ask to support “Nina’s Gold Award.”

If the cookie sales are not enough to generate the funds needed for the project, Nina said she plans to ask local landscape companies for help and hopes to get donations from area companies.

Nina’s mother, MJ Parri, an assistant leader for her daughter’s troop, said her daughter put a lot of hard work into preparing the 23-page report for her proposal, which was required in seeking pre-approval for the Gold Award project.

“She is really looking forward to doing the actual work of building the garden,” said MJ.

Nina said she will get help constructing the garden from her sixth-grade brother Sam’s Boy Scout Troop No. 380, operating out of Mount Zion United Methodist Church. She asked them to consider volunteering to help her with the construction of the garden this spring and summer.

“This is a win-win for both of us because they will earn required service hours and I will get manpower,” said Nina.

The Boy Scouts — 11 volunteers to date — will help till the garden, haul away debris, improve the soil, plant and mulch, she said.

Nina explained the leadership effort in planning and organizing the project also was a requirement for the Gold Award.

Nina has been involved in Girl Scouts since she was 3, first serving as a “mascot” for a Daisy Girl Scout troop — the youngest level of Girl Scouts — before finally joining a troop as a kindergartener.

“Being in Girl Scouts teaches you life lessons and qualities you don’t learn elsewhere,” she said. “It has helped me grow as an individual and I have learned to help others in the community. Being a Girl Scout is special to me.”

Nina plays on Hoban’s junior varsity basketball and softball teams, has a 3.5 grade point average and plans to study biomedical engineering in college so that she can create new or improved prostheses for amputees, she said.

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