Thursday, May 15, 2014

She-Shells! Girl Scout Allyson Willis Proves You Can Make a Difference No Matter Your Age

For her Girl Scout Bronze Award project, Allyson Willis of Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay successfully designed and implemented a petition and letter-writing campaign to persuade Delaware lawmakers to name the channeled whelk, a type of sea snail pictured below, Delaware’s official state shell.  

Video credit: Middletown Transcript

"I realized that a lot of the states around us, New Jersey and New York, had state shells even though we have more beaches than they do," Allyson told delawareonline. "It kind of made me mad. It was almost like we weren't there."
She-shells!: Delaware Governor Jay Markell signed a channeled whelk. The shell, along with a copy of the bill Allyson helped pass, will be included in an exhibit at the Delaware Museum of Natural History.  
Allyson worked closely with Rep. Quinn Johnson of Middletown to craft the bill that became law. 

 "...for me, [this bill is] more about Allyson, her classmates, and her fellow Girl Scouts taking an interest in the environment and in the legislative process," Rep. Johnson told the Middletown Transcript. "We try to listen to all our constituents, and something like this just shows that you don't have to be of voting age to be a constituent or to make a difference."
Making the world a better place: From left to right: Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay CEO Anne Hogan; Girl Scout Allyson Willis (seated); Allyson's dad, Jim Willis; Allyson's mom, Renne Willis; and Delaware Governor Jack Markell. Allyson's grandparents, not pictured, were also in attendance, and she even had family travel from New Mexico to witness her make history!
"It is so important to encourage civic engagement among young people and show them the value of advocating on behalf of issues that matter to them," Gov. Markell said in a release. "This piece of legislation is the result of Allyson's efforts and shows the impact one person can have on their community."

For Allyson, her success is still surreal.

"I thought it was just a little girl's dream that would never come true," she said.

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