Eastern Iowa Girl Scout earns Gold Award for Butterfly Garden Project

Eastern Iowa Girl Scout earns Gold Award for Butterfly Garden Project
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 4:50 PM CST
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NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG) - Girl Scouts are often associated with their iconic cookies, but for those who continue with the program as they grow up, they often take on projects to help the community.

Rachel Swack has been in Girl Scouts since Kindergarten.

While she just started her first year of college at the University of Iowa, she also recently earned the Girl Scout Gold Award for her project creating a Butterfly Garden for memory care residents at Keystone Senior Living in North Liberty.

“Memory loss and it causes like a lot of stress and anxiety and the butterfly gardens are just supposed to help with that. And I thought that was really cool when I was researching,” said Swack.

Swack set out to transform the space Keystone already had available.

She brought in coneflowers, pugster plants and milkweed to help bring the butterflies and painted rocks with residents to place around the garden.

“In the spring, when they re-bloom, butterflies will be attracted and it’s just kind of calming, especially with the colors and all the flowers kind of like give like an aroma. And that’s also supposed to help soothe and like relax,” Swack said.

”People living with dementia and Alzheimer’s really benefit from time outside. It’s a way for them to relax. It’s a way for them to decompress,” said Shelby Eden, Life Enrichment Director at Keystone.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest honor you can receive as a Girl Scout. But for Swack it wasn’t about the award.

”It was more about like doing it for like the community. And like if I was like, oh, I fall through not doing this, I would have felt really bad. And so I was happy just to get the garden done,” said Swack.

Shelby Eden, Life Enrichment director at Keystone said it was inspiring to see Swack work on the garden.

”I think that it’s a great message to people that have family members living with dementia and Alzheimer’s. That, you know somebody cares about them and that they’re willing to do a project and take time out of their day to make somebody else’s life better,” said Eden.

And Swack also has a personal tie to the garden. Her grandma, who lived out of state, had dementia.

”It was really meaningful to me because it was like I couldn’t help her directly because obviously like the state difference,” she said. “I think it’s just also like inspiring to have done it for people who aren’t directly connected to me, but also like in memory and in honor of my own Grandma,” said Swack.