Four Mattituck High School freshman celebrated a milestone in their Girl Scout journey Wednesday, when they cut the ribbon on the newly improved dog agility course at the Southold Town Animal Shelter.
Sidney Brewer, Mackenzie Conroy, Samantha Hildesheim and Emily Nicholson of Girl Scout Troop 1474 worked since August to repaint and add new obstacles to the canine agility course for the North Fork Animal Welfare League. All four girls said they spent 50 to 60 hours each to complete this project. They also made about 30 paracord dog and cat collars by hand, which will be adoption gifts from the shelter.
“The agility was the first thing that we thought of when we were putting together our project,” Mackenzie, 14, said during a speech before the ribbon cutting. “We had remembered that the paint was chipped and peeling, and that not everything was functional, so we contacted the shelter and asked if we could help.”
A huge part of their efforts went into photography. They took photos of all the animals so the shelter could post on social media and make calendars. The girls also posted photos of the animals on their own Instagram accounts, which led to a kitten getting adopted.
The girls reached out to local libraries and asked them to keep donation boxes, so patrons could donate items to the shelter like food and toys.
The project cost about $300 to complete, and it was funded by Sidney’s grandfather Arthur Brewer and Amos Merringer. They added a tire jump and a crawl tunnel to the course.
“Our favorite part of the project was socializing the animals, in other words playing with all the animals,” Sidney, 14, said. “It is very important that the animals get socialized, then they are more likely to get adopted.”
The obstacles were painted yellow and gray by the girl scouts and were also sanded down.
“It’s a big achievement. I never thought we would actually put this much into this,” Sidney said. “It took a lot of work and I’m proud of the outcome.”
“It’s a great feeling to give back to the community after living in it for so long,” Samantha, 14, added.
Nicole Brewer, troop leader since the girls were in kindergarten, said that she is extremely proud of all seven girls in Troop 1474, because they now all have their Silver Awards.
“The thing that really resonated with is that one little social media post, what’s really the power of that,” Ms. Brewer said. “A kitten got adopted who was a little skittish, a little crazy and a little nuts at first. And then after a couple of weeks of hanging out with the girls and being cuddled, the kitten now has a fantastic new home and the family has a new member.”
The girls said they hope that with their social media push, more people will learn about what the shelter has to offer.
“The passion that these girls had for this project and for the animals was incredible,” Tammie Hildesheim, the other troop leader, said. “They know what they’re doing is beneficial for the shelter and the community.”
Photo caption: Tammie Hildesheim, Samantha Hildesheim, Emily Nicholson, Mackenzie Conroy, Sidney Brewer and Nicole Brewer in the yard where the refurbished agility course is located. (Rachel Siford photo)