Local Girl Scout Cadette troop earns highest attainable honor

A local Girl Scout Cadette troop has earned the highest attainable honor, a Silver Award, for their work on a historical landmark in Cedar Falls.

Troop 6581 members McKenzie Adair, Myah Brinker, Sydney Herzman, Elise Wehr and Audrienne Kennedy were already well-versed on community service projects, having completed numerous ones since 2009.  But, in 2015, they noticed the little brown house in Overman Park in Cedar Falls needed some big improvements.  Easily overlooked by others, the troop researched its history and realized its value in the area.

"The little brown house, or more formally called, The Jacob Hoffman Replica Cabin, was built in 1969 to imitate the original cabin that Jacob Hoffman and his family lived in. The original cabin was only 12×20 and was built circa 1854," wrote troop member, Audrienne Kennedy, in her Silver Award article.

The hands-on labor began in September 2017.  Audrienne best explains what each troop member contributed to the project:

"Audrienne Kennedy, one of the 5 Cadettes, communicated with Kevin Cross from the Cedar Falls Parks Department. He agreed the replica cabin needed some rejuvenation and helped the girls decide what projects were priority, such as repairing cracked beams, filling concrete cracks, scraping off old paint, and painting the exterior walls.

Sydney Herzman noticed the shelving inside the cabin was in bad condition. Her main contribution was to remove the current shelving, research prices and styles, and replace the very rusty and outdated ones. The shelves are frequently used by multiple city events such as the Cedar Falls Farmers Market, Community Main Street, the CF Historical Society, and Sturgis Falls Celebration.

McKenzie Adair cleaned and polished the brass plaque from the South side of the cabin, which denotes the historical value of the cabin, without McKenzie’s work, no one would know.

Elise Wehr saw the cabins curtains were dirty and stained. She picked out new fabric, sewed and hung the new curtains in all three windows, really bringing the whole cabin together.

Myah Brinker used carpentry skills to cut a new electrical cord pass-thru and put new siding over the old hole on the North side of the building.

All of the girls helped one another get the array of jobs done. One of the largest projects was the scraping, brushing down, and painting the exterior walls of the cabin. This was started in the Fall of 2017 and completed in June 2018, by the entire troop. From filling cracks in the floor with self-leveling concrete to using power tools and a floor jack, each job was a learning experience for Troop 6581."

Hosta plants were transplanted to the north and south sides of the cabin on the final day to finish the look and project.

According to Linda Kennedy, Cadette Troop 6581 co-leader (with Janice Crowe), there are eight steps to the Girl Scout Silver Award: Complete a Cadette Journey, identify issues you care about, build your GC Silver Award team, explore your community, pick your project, develop your project, make a plan and put it into motion, and reflect, share your story and celebrate.  Kennedy says a minimum of 50 hours is the suggested time for earning the Silver Award, and the girls used a time log to track all the hours they worked on the cabin.

All five girls recently completed 8th grade at Peet and Holmes Junior High Schools in Cedar Falls.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at Overman Park on Sunday, July 8 to unveil the "new" little brown house and to celebrate the great accomplishments of these young ladies.

“We could not have done it without the guidance of our troop leaders Linda Kennedy and Janice Crowe,” wrote Audrienne. “We wouldn’t have the friendships that being in Girl Scouts has given us."

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