It started with an April 2016 email to Delta Waterfowl from Stephanie Apitz, a Girl Scout troop leader in Plaistow, New Hampshire.
“I’m an avid waterfowl hunter, and I’ve been searching for ways to incorporate my love for the outdoors with the Girl Scouts,” Apitz wrote. “When I came across your Hen Houses online, an idea sparked. My goal is to teach my Girl Scouts about waterfowl, the importance of conservation and ways they can help. We’d love to have Delta Waterfowl’s support in this adventure.”
The Girl Scouts indeed had Delta’s support, and Apitz was soon contacted by Andy Kalgren, chairman of the Merrimack River Chapter of Delta Waterfowl in Concord, New Hampshire. To the great benefit of New Hampshire’s locally nesting mallards, Girl Scout Troop 13050’s “Hen House Project” was officially underway.
“Andy Kalgren has been amazing,” Apitz said. “Every step of the way, he’s been there for the girls. He’s even attended meetings to help educate and assist them with their Hen House Project.”
By late May 2016, the troop had already completed and installed several mallard-producing Hen Houses at local wetlands. According to Apitz, enthusiasm is so high that the girls are now using the project toward earning their Bronze Awards — the highest honor available to Junior Girl Scouts (grades 4 and 5). The girls hope to construct at least 50 Hen Houses for installation in spring 2017.
“New approved locations are coming in every day,” Apitz said. “The girls are so excited that they’re even talking about creating a ‘Hen House Badge’ for Girl Scouts to earn throughout the nation!”
The girls have developed a passion for the outdoors and embraced their role in conservation. Take a speech regarding Hen Houses by Apitz’s daughter Kristen, 10, at a local town hall event:
“People are always saying I can be anything I want, that girls can do whatever boys can. They say what I do can change the world, but it’s hard to find a chance to make a change. Let this be ours. Let us start now.”
Several of the girls have expressed interest in outdoor-related professions, such as biologists and fish and game officers, while others would like to try hunting.
“[They’re learning that] hunting and conservation go hand in hand,” Apitz said. “They’ve bonded with nature and found incredible confidence in themselves.”