Since 1957, Orinda Scouts have beautified areas around the city and enhanced the local environment. To recognize and honor these decades-long contributions, The Orinda Association (OA) chose Orinda Scouts to receive the William Penn Mott, Jr. Environmental Award for 2020.
The award presentation was scheduled as part of the Open House and Picnic Day at the Wagner Ranch Nature Area Sept. 26. Both events are canceled due to the increase in COVID cases. The OA plans for an in-person ceremony and award presentation in the future.
The award, given in memory of 50-year Orinda resident William Penn Mott, Jr., is presented annually to an Orinda resident, group of residents or organization which has worked for the preservation, improvement, promotion or educational use of Orinda’s environmental and ecological assets.
Often described as “Mr. Parks” and a “modern day John Muir,” Mott worked 60 years to create tens of thousands of acres of parkland at the national, state, regional and local levels. He headed the National Park Service (NPS), the California park systems, Oakland’s city parks, the East Bay Regional Parks and the Moraga parks department.
At age 82, Mott was serving as a special assistant to the NPS, working on the conversion plans for civilian use of the Presidio of San Francisco, at the time of his death in 1992. Locally, Mott was a founding member of The Orinda Association and served as its first president.
To earn the Gold Award rank, Girl Scouts spend a minimum of 80 hours on their projects and demonstrate extraordinary leadership in developing sustainable solutions to local, national and global challenges. The organization’s site said, “Gold Award Girl Scouts don’t just change the world for the better; they change it for good.”
To earn scouting’s Eagle advancement rank, boys and girls must fulfill requirements in leadership, service and outdoor skills, in addition to completing at least 21 merit badges and organizing and leading a service project for the betterment of the community.
Samples of Gold and Eagle Scout projects benefitting Orinda and the WRNA include the following:
Evan Draeger planned and built a 16’ x 4’, ADA-compliant footbridge over Wagner Creek to provide equal access to mobility-challenged individuals.
Liam Glynn refurbished a stairway and railing at Orinda Oaks Park with the assistance of 12 Scouts who contributed more than 160 volunteer hours.
Caitlin Goldsmith created a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) for Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center in Orinda to assist the utilization of horse therapy for children and adults with nonverbal disabilities.
Claire McCoullough spearheaded the renovation of the watering system for a WRNA pond and installed a camera trap to document wildlife using the pond.
Elizabeth Odell made a large mason bee habitat and held “Build Your Bee Box” seminars for scouts to promote habitats for native bees and to educate the community.
Cindy Powell, with The Orinda Association, contributed to this article.