Niskayuna's Caroline McGraw has been named a National Gold Award Girl Scout.
The award was issued by Girl Scouts of the USA and is the organization's most prestigious honor. Only 10 Girl Scouts receive the award (formerly known as the National Young Women of Distinction) each year.
McGraw is the first young woman from the Capital Region to ever win the national award, which has included $20,000 in college scholarships.
The honor has been part of a noteworthy autumn for the 17-year-old Scout. On Thursday, McGraw and a team of Girl Scouts appeared with former First Lady Michelle Obama on NBC's "Today Show" in New York City, part of a commemoration of the International Day of the Girl. McGraw later spoke on a panel at the United Nations.
The path to the national award started with designation as a Gold Award Girl Scout. About five percent of Girl Scouts earn their gold awards each year.
The elite, 10-Scout company was chosen from a field of more than 500 Gold Award Scouts nominated for the honor. The winners were judged by previous national gold winners.
McGraw addressed food insecurity for her gold project. She worked to promote the health of plant pollinators such as bees and butterflies by creating the first municipal solar pollinator gardens in New York state.
McGraw installed native plants and flowers around the town of Niskayuna's solar array, located on the town hall complex off Nott Street East. She also created a garden near the solar array at the town's Highway Department on WTRY Road.
There were other parts of the project. McGraw advocated to secure $300,000 in the state budget for pollinator research. She was also a booster for passage of legislation in the state Senate and Assembly to develop guidelines for vegetation management plans designed for people or corporations that claim to provide pollinator protection.
The measure is currently awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo's approval to become law.
McGraw explained her process for pollinator protection.
"I brought together government officials, Girl Scouts and community leaders to work in a team," McGraw said. "The result was greater attention on importance of pollinator habitats worldwide to increase global food production as well as promote the Girl Scout mission."
McGraw graduated from Niskayuna High School this past June. She just started her freshman year at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where she is pursuing studies in political science and French. McGraw is also a member of the varsity swim team.
"We're very proud of Caroline's recognition," said Mary Buszuwski, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York. "Her hard work, commitment and dedication to Girl Scouts is a model for all 10,000 of the girls involved in the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York."
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected].