Sewickley Teen Earns Girl Scout Gold Award

Sonia Morrill discusses the award she received for creating an interactive learning exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

By Sonia Morrill

The Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout can earn. On Nov. 12, 2012, I was awarded this nationally recognized award.

The Gold Award project combines service with leadership. For my project I chose to work with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH) to create an interactive exhibit that would provide education to the public as an act of service and would require my leadership in training other volunteers to run the exhibit.

I have been working as a teen docent at CMNH since I was 13. As a docent, I work to run exhibits that the public can interact with, and I lead activities that bring the artifacts behind glass to life.

When I was trying to decide what to do for my project I realized that the museum did not have a lot of displays of reptiles or amphibians, which are some of my favorite animals in the natural world. I realized that I could amend the lack of information and specimens displayed in the museum by making an amphibian/reptile exhibit of my own.

My finished project is a cart like most of the other interactive exhibits. However, this cart provides much more information to the public than existing exhibits by displaying some of the museum’s massive behind the scenes collection of amphibians and reptiles. It has also been taken outside the museum to inform a wider range of people about reptiles and amphibians.  

I assembled a team of experts including April Claus, naturalist at Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley Heights, who was extremely helpful in allowing the cart to travel to a few of the FHNC summer camp programs, and supplying me with a few of the specimens on the cart.

I also received help from a few teachers at Quaker Valley who let me observe their science teaching kits. Some very helpful people at the museum were my manager CeeJay Levine, Pat McShea (in charge of educational loans from the museum), Steve Roberts (the collection manager for the herpetology section of the museum,, and of course my project advisor Angela Scardina.

There are a number of other teen docents at CMNH that I work with to run these exhibits, and these people were some of the most helpful in making my project a reality.

I am grateful to my parents and local Girl Scout leaders as well for encouraging me to earn this award.

With the help of these people, I am now the first Girl Scout in over 20 years in the Quaker Valley School District to earn the Gold Award.


Sonia Morrill, 16, is the daughter of Jamie Morrill and Karen Schmidt, troop leader, and is a junior at Quaker Valley High School. She will officially receive her award during a ceremony on June 2. 

Barbara Cooley Thaw January 15, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Sonia worked hard to achieve this Gold Award and indeed, all of us Glen Oaks Girl Scouts are proud of her diligence and perseverance. This award is a challenge to earn and this accomplishment says a lot about Sonia's character! Way To Go!!!


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