Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tera Sparks from O'Fallon Earns the Girl Scout Gold Award

Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois (GSSI) is pleased to announce that Tera Sparks from O’Fallon has received the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can receive.

 For her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Tera created a repository of all the headstones and markers in the O’Fallon City Cemetery and placed them online so city residents and friends could easily find the grave locations. As part of her Gold Award project, she made a map, took a photo of each headstone, compared it to city records and documented all known data about the deceased as well as any inscriptions on the headstone. All of this information was then uploaded to the O’Fallon City website for anyone to use. In the future, O’Fallon GEO Information Services will keep the database updated.

According to Tera, the beauty of her project is that anyone, anywhere in the world could easily find who is buried in the O’Fallon City Cemetery. “For example, if a person knew that 50 years ago her aunt lived in O’Fallon, he or she could sit at a cafĂ© in England and find his or her aunt’s gravesite, a photo of her headstone and any other inscriptions,” Sparks added.

 “The most successful part of my Girl Scout Gold Award project was creating the spreadsheet with all of the information I had collected,” Tera said. “For me, this was what my project was all about, preserving information for my generation and for future generations.”

Tera is the daughter of Eric and Michelle Sparks from O’Fallon. She is a senior at Illinois Math and Science Academy. After graduation, she plans to attend Georgia Institute of Technology and major in Nuclear Engineering. She has been a Girl Scout for 11 years.

The Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, recognizes a Girl Scout's commitment to excellence as she develops skills and values to meet present and future challenges in her life. To earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, a Girl Scout Senior or Girl Scout Ambassador must design and carry out a project that fulfills a need within a girl’s community, creates change, and is sustainable. The project must be completed with a suggested minimum of 80 hours of work. Only about 6 percent of eligible girls earn the prestigious Gold Award.