‘To Bee or Not to Bee’

Pali High Student Vies for Girl Scout Gold Award With Bee Project

By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter 

This month, Palisades Charter High School junior Sage Kasick will participate in her final interview to qualify to be a Gold Award Girl Scout—the top award given out in the program—for a project about bees.

“Bees are just so important to humans,” Kasick said of her choice for a project, which included creating sustainable bee gardens at elementary schools.

Kasick, 16, began her journey to top Girl Scout honors in third grade when she joined as a Brownie. Kasick is now a Juliette Girl Scout, which means she is not associated with a troop and works independently.

“I started off with getting the Bronze Award when I was in elementary school,” Kasick recalled. “I went to a senior center and talked to seniors with my Girl Scout troop.”

Kasick then went on to earn a Silver Award while attending Paul Revere Charter Middle School. Since she was involved in the band, she decided to put her efforts there.

“I went to the band room at Paul Revere Middle School and redid the shelving in the band room, so it’s easier to take out instruments and put them away,” Kasick explained.

“I owe a huge thank you to my mom for pushing me,” Kasick shared about her project. “I did the hard work, and I’m here and it’s great.”

Kasick said her peer group also helped inspire her decision to focus on bees.

“My friends are all extremely environmentally aware and supportive of the future for humans, so I know a lot of my friends talk about bees,” Kasick said. “One of my friends started the Pali Honeybee Association at Pali this year, of which I became the vice president.”

Kasick shared that the group has talked about why bees are important and have raised funds for the Honeybee Conservancy, which supports bees to ensure a good future.

“That started making me think: What do I want to do for my Gold project? What do I care about? What do I want to spread the message about?” Kasick recalled. “I decided I was going to do it about bees.”

About 70% of the top human food crops are pollinated by bees, according to Greenpeace USA. In winter 2018, U.S. beekeepers lost about 40% of their honeybee colonies, NPR reported. A Bee Informed Partnership survey graph showed it to be the largest “winter hive loss” since the survey began 13 years ago.

Kasick shared that she felt that she was able to make a strong impact on the community through her project. She did many things to prepare her project, using measurable goals and sustainability as her guidelines for effectively creating a community impact.

Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

Kasick went to five elementary schools, including Richland Avenue, Beethoven Street, Nora Sterry, Castle Heights and Will Rogers Elementary School, where she helped them visually see a bee garden and create one.

“Bee gardens consist of pollinator-friendly flowers, so there are usually perennials and they shouldn’t be sprayed with any pesticides that could hurt the bees,” Kasick explained. “The bee gardens that I planted are really sustainable and don’t require a lot of water, which is important for California and they are really easy to maintain.”

In one of the gardens, Kasick dug in the ground and installed a drip irrigation system.

“Basically, we dug divots and the rain birds were placed one foot apart along the tubing, and we plugged it into the hose,” she said. “We put a water timer on the hose so it waters every week.”

Kasick collected donations from local nurseries to fund the bee gardens. She also secured people to maintain them and created a curricula for elementary students to learn about bees.

The lesson plans are designed to teach younger generations about why bees are important and how to help them. Her plan includes a relay game about bees at the end of the lesson for children in first through fifth grade.

“Sage’s bee garden is the perfect addition to Richland’s Learning Garden,” wrote Kami Turrou, who manages the Richland Elementary bee garden and is a Pali High band volunteer. “Her design is thoughtful and fits in perfectly with our theme of attracting pollinators.”

“I want people to know how important it is for all generations to pay attention to bees and why bees are important, as well as how to support them and our future as well,” Kasick said.

Supporting local beekeepers, for instance, is another avenue to help, Kasick suggested, such as buying honey at the farmers market.

“It’s important because bees pollinate our crops and they support agriculture, and they are a huge part of our economy,” Kasick continued. “The economy could potentially collapse without them.”

Another one of Kasick’s measurable goals is to see how many people go to her website to see exactly the quantitative data  of who is impacted by her project. The website houses information about her project, safety tips about bees and why bees are important.

In the future, the Pali Honeybee Association has a goal to set up a bee garden at neighboring Temescal Academy.

Kasick explained that the Palisades has been a “great, supportive community.” This is the only neighborhood she’s been in where every person she meets has been supportive.

“Nationally, less than 5% of Girls Scouts are eligible to earn the honor at the senior and ambassador level,” Kenya Yarbrough, director of marketing and advocacy for Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, explained to the Palisadian-Post about the Gold Award.

In order to earn gold, the scout spends a minimum of 80 hours on advocacy, research and building their project, Yarbrough explained. It’s often a multi-year process.

Kasick finds out if she is a recipient of the Girl Scout Award on February 23, the date of her final interview. The 2020 Gold Award Ceremony will take place at the Skirball Cultural Center on June 7.

For more information, visit Kasick’s website.