Whitehall High School senior Savannah Ross celebrated the opening of her interpretive design at the Whitehall Rec last weekend, a key part of her application for a gold award, the highest honor for Girl Scouts.
Ross’ family and friends celebrated the art installment with community members on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the rec for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting. Ross has been working for months on the project and was excited to finally see it in the Whitehall community.
“I wanted to create interesting displays that would educate kids about local animal species which I was able to do with the support I received from the community,” she said.
The interpretive design project was inspired by Ross’s love for wildlife and her community. So, she chose to make informative signs about the wildlife they might see in the Whitehall area.
“I thank my Girl Scouts’ troop 3274 for supporting me as well as my troop leader Tammy for her time helping guide me for this project,” she said.
The signs are paired with birdhouses that were donated by Logan Pease. Pease and his grandfather made the houses and decided they would attract some of the wildlife to offer more of an up-close and personal viewing experience. Ross also coordinated with American Legion Post 83 and the Elks to hold a spaghetti dinner on Sept. 23 to raise funds for her project.
“I want to thank everyone that has helped me with the project,” she said. “Those who volunteered serving, delivering meals, selling tickets, purchasing a dinner, and the member of the American Legion and Elks who helped prepare the dinners. I would also like to thank the Elks for letting me use their building for the fundraiser.”
Mayor Julie Eagan attended the ceremony and expressed gratitude to Ross and her contribution to the Whitehall Rec and community. Eagan also served as Rec Leader for Whitehall for years before moving on to her mayoral position last spring.
“I’m glad we have kids like Savannah in this community,” she said.
Ross collaborated with a Whitehall business for her project and according to Ross’s mother, Sue Belden-Hurlburt, Dawn Brazee of Creative DeSIGNS and Concepts was hesitant to take the job.
“She’s never done anything like this,” Belden-Hurlburt said. “She usually does big signs for businesses and this was different. First, she actually turned us down and offered to point us in a different direction of someone who might. But she really wasn’t sure she could do it at first, and then we sat and chatted some more and she said, ‘you know, let’s see what we can do.’”
Brazee created the three-dimensional depictions of the animals Ross chose to include in her project. The designs consisted of a blue jay, red squirrel and more.
“I want to thank Dawn, the owner of Creative DeSIGNS and Concepts for creating these amazing displays which, I know you were very busy, so I appreciate you working with me on this project,” Ross said in her speech.
Ross spoke with NYVTmedia in September and explained that she put 80 hours into working on the project. The award is received by only 6% of Girl Scouts nationally and Ross is the only to be going for it this year in Whitehall, according to Ross’s troop leader, Tami Shaw.
“Savannah represents the best of all of us,” Shaw said. “She is smart, devoted, and dedicated.”
If community members would like to see the installment, it is located near the back parking lot of the Whitehall Rec, next to the playground. The installments are scattered near the waterfront.
Ross said she is grateful for the opportunity to give back to her community.
“There are so many people that helped me on this journey including family, friends, and the community so I’d like to thank all who supported me in any way,” Ross said. “I am happy to be given this opportunity and I am looking forward to submitting my final paperwork for the gold award.”