Gold Award for Solar Gardens

A member of local Girl Scout Troop 2383 since kindergarten, Niskayuna High School senior Caroline McGraw, was joined by Assemblyman Phil Steck, environmental advocates, other Girl Scouts, and local elected officials as she cut the ribbon to make Niskayuna the first town in the state to have “solar gardens” at its solar arrays.  The project will help her earn Girl Scouts highest honor, the Gold Award.

Solar gardens are a diverse native landscape under and around solar panels, and planted with a varied mix of multiple species instead of using gravel or a mono crop of shallow-rooted non-native plant species, like turf grass. The purpose of creating gardens under and around solar panels is to encourage the re-population of endangered pollinator species and create a system of long term maintenance of pollinator habitats on a scale that would not otherwise exist.

Part of McGraw’s Gold Award project includes advocating for state legislation to encourage the development solar gardens throughout New York.  She is working with Assemblyman Phil Steck (D-Colonie) to seek passage of a bill he is sponsoring, A.8083 , an act relating to creating a solar array pollinator benefit program.

Nationally, only 5.4% of eligible Girl Scouts successfully earn the Gold Award. Girl Scout's highest award was created in 1916.