July 26, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
Updated July 26, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.
Most youth spend their summers relaxing at home, going to the lake or vacationing with their family.
However, 11 young girls from Sauk Centre Girl Scout Troop 171 have spent their summer raising money for upgrades to the dog park in Sauk Centre, located on First Street North, next to the Lions Skating Rink.
“We are doing this because most of us have dogs,” Emma Macey said. “And to get our Bronze Award.”
The Bronze Award is the highest award a Junior Girl Scout can achieve. The award is given for projects demonstrating courage, confidence and character all while making a difference in the community. One requirement for the project is it needs to be a sustainable community project. Emma and her fellow scouts, Natalie Marthaler, Hadley Wheeler, Kaylen Wolbeck, Aubree Dirkes, Natalya Strassburg, Addison Gast, Kaylee Messer, Sophie Twedt, Kylee Bjostad and Laney Wilber chose to enhance the local dog park for four-legged and two-legged Sauk Centre residents.
Emma’s mother, Kellie Macey, is helping the girls coordinate the project along with Jessica Marthaler, who is Natalie’s mother, and Carrie Wheeler, who is Hadley’s mother. The three moms are the troop leaders.
“The girls came up with the idea all on their own,” Kellie said. “I took Emma around and we visited a couple of other dog parks, and we also met with (Public Works Supervisor) Ben Clink to see what he thought our dog park could use.”
Using feedback from Clink and the community, as well as online research and visits to other parks, the girls came up with their plan.
“We are going to put in equipment and fix up the benches. We are getting tires from Friedrichs and painting them to make tunnels for an obstacle course,” Hadley said. “We are also going to get a new tree.”
One of the current trees in the dog park did not survive the winter and will need to be removed. Some funds raised by the girls will be used to purchase a new tree.
The girls are going to build a doghouse that will be used as a “little free dog toy library” so there will always be toys for dogs to play with.
“The little free dog toy library was all thought of by the girls. They thought of getting tires, painting them and putting them in the ground,” Kellie said.
The group is working with the Sauk Centre Parks and Recreation Department and will extend the existing water line in the park.
“We are going to put in a new water line in the large dog park since there is only a water line in the small dog park,” Emma said.
The girls started coming up with ideas in April and will need to have the project completed by the end of September in order to receive their Bronze Award. The trio is working with the city of Sauk Centre. They formally presented their proposal to the Sauk Centre Parks and Recreation Board in June and were recently given approval to move forward with their project.
“Now, we are at the point of fundraising and getting all the supplies we will need,” Carrie said. “The girls have started building the doghouse for the little free dog toy library and will have to stain the lumber used for the picnic benches.”
Girl Scout Troop 171 has been holding fundraisers throughout July, including a booth at the Sinclair Lewis Days craft fair, and they will be selling water and freezes near the Stearns County Fairgrounds. The troop recently received a grant from First Lutheran Church to aid in their efforts, as well as a donation from Little Sauk Legion. Friedrichs Tire and Oil is donating the tires that will be used.
The girls’ goal is to raise $1,500 in order to purchase all the supplies and services needed to make the necessary upgrades to the dog park.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community so far,” Kellie said. “The girls have all been working hard to get this project completed.