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For Gold Award, Wilhide educates school communities on composting

MADISON – Julia Wilhide’s determination to improve her hometown guided her decision for her Gold Award project in Girl Scouts.

Since her time as a Daisy, Wilhide has wanted to achieve the Gold Award, the pinnacle in ranking with Girl Scouts. “Recently, I became very passionate about environmental consciousness. When I learned of the massive impact that food waste has on the environment, I wanted to make positive changes,” Wilhide said.

Her project, “Unmake Your Mark,” focused on food waste education and the solution of composting. “When food waste is disposed of in a landfill, its decomposition process produces methane, a greenhouse gas that’s harmful for the environment,” Wilhide said. When food and yard waste are composted, the decomposition is much more beneficial to let food waste break down to produce nutrient rich compost for gardens and lawns.

Wilhide’s Gold Award project dealt with schools’ significant food waste. She built a compost bin for Horizon Elementary School and a vermicomposting bin (composting with earthworms) for Bob Jones High School, along with goal-tracking posters to monitor progress.

For numerous North Alabama schools, Wilhide produced educational material in slideshow presentations, composting instructions and guidelines for acceptable contents to compost.

“I hope this project inspires others to learn more about environmental change and make a positive difference for the Earth,” Wilhide said. “It’s my hope that this project will (educate) people about food waste and composting. My project will reduce food waste produced by Madison schools.”

Her project required 138 hours for planning, designing, shopping, building and installing. Wilhide also designed a website, unmakeyourmark.wixsite.com/website, about the processes.

Wilhide belongs to Troop 10926 with leaders Jean Downs and Andrea Johnson. “I greatly appreciate the help I received from my troop leaders, as well as my project advisor, Nikole Sothers,” she said. Wilhide also thanked her family, teachers who helped, Beth Bero at Horizon and Elizabeth McFarland at Bob Jones.

In May, Wilhide graduated from Bob Jones. She was Stage Manager and Student Tech Director for theatre; Environmental Club, Vice President; National English Honors Society, Treasurer; in honor societies for academic excellence; Greenhouse Club; and Photography Club.

“I graduated with a 4.29 GPA and earned the Madison City Seal of Academic Distinction,” Wilhide said.

Her pastimes include dance, technical theatre, gardening, reading/writing and photography. Currently a freshman at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Wilhide is undecided on a major but is interested in environmental science or English.

Her parents are Brent and Susan Wilhide. He is a retired U.S. Army Colonel. She is a former teacher.

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