WINSLOW — Every Girl Scout troop has a specific meeting place: a town hall, school, church, fire department, etc. These community spaces provide ample room for troops to come together, build connections, share ideas, and participate in skill-building activities across a wide variety of concentrations and topics such as STEM, financial literacy, outdoor skills and more.

But in Troop 545’s case, the meeting space became a troop project itself.

Troop 545 is comprised of a mixture of seven Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts who have met at the St. Joseph Center, at 80 Garland Road, on a weekly basis for the past few years. In 2021, the property owners, known as the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon, announced that they were developing a sanctuary and asked for help from local civic and non-profit groups on various environmental projects to create a thoughtful plan for the land.

“Our group had just started meeting there and we were happy to tag along with some of the projects,” said Melissa Sullivan, Troop 545 leader, according to a Girl Scouts of Maine news release.

Troop efforts began with gardening in the backyard, the genesis of a project that would grow alongside the Girl Scouts for years to come.

“We initially planted a bulb and flower garden in the backyard. We tended the garden for a few years before allowing it to go dormant,” said Sullivan.


Later, when the owners created a few trails behind St. Joseph Center, the troop constructed bug hotels and placed them along with informational signs for hikers to learn more about the insects inhabiting the area.

“We are now going into our second year of partnering with Mid Maine Permaculture to host a plant sale and swap in May, which helps bring more people to the property, and brings in donations to our troop and the sanctuary,” says Sullivan.

At least year’s plant sale, the Girl Scouts were able to help build an herb spiral with help from Mid Maine Permaculture. During the winter months, when plants and flowers are off the agenda, Troop 545 snowshoes throughout the riverside trail, ensuring it stays clean and clear.

While the sanctuary is still a work in progress, the public is encouraged to visit the property at their leisure and attend any of the monthly Skill Share events hosted by sanctuary partners.


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