Provided by Prince William County
Natalie Korzuch was looking for ideas for her Girl Scout Silver Award project. She found it visiting the Bee Store in Lake Ridge. “I went in there not knowing what my Silver Award project was going to be, and I came out knowing exactly what I wanted to do.”
Natalie, 14, recently planted a pollinator garden and worked with Prince William County Fire and Rescue Station 26 to make it happen.
Captain Carl Ericson at Station 26 said the firefighters spend a lot of a time at the fire station, and a pollinator garden makes for a less sterile environment. “Pollinator gardens are going to encourage butterflies, pollinator bees and other things. It’s a beautification of the grounds. It also helps us blend in with the surrounding community. I thought the project was a really good fit for us in terms of making things look nicer.”
In addition to working with Captain Ericson and other county agencies, Natalie worked with the Earth Sangha, a wild plant nursery in Springfield that specializes in native plants that have not been treated with pesticides or other chemicals. “I pitched them my idea. I worked with a bunch of people from the county to create this, and I worked with Earth Sangha, mostly to get all of the plants, but I did have a lot of people donate.”
Once the plants in the garden start blooming, they should attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators, Natalie said. “The bees are everything to us. Without bees, we wouldn’t have half of the things we have now. We’d be unhealthy. They are responsible for one third of the food that we eat. They’re just very important for our environment and to keep us healthy.”
Melissa Korzuch, Natalie’s mother, said her daughter topped 100 hours in working on the project, designing the beds, getting plant donations and coordinating the whole thing. “She raised money. She got donations, cookie money. All of this, I’d say, came to about $1,000 worth of plants. This turned into a lot bigger project than what we thought it was going to be.”
Korzuch said signs describing all of the plants in the five garden locations at the station will eventually be put in place. “It will be educational, as well as beneficial to the pollinators.”
The 165 plants Natalie and members of her Girl Scout troop put into the 1,270 square feet of garden beds, include bee balm, black-eyed Susans, blazing star, blue false indigo, boneset, cardinal flower, coreopsis, culver’s root, echinacea, foxglove, beard tongue, golden Alexanders, Joe pye weed, lavender, mountain mint, pink coneflower, spiderwort, summer phlox, sundrop, swamp milkweed and wild bergamot.
Abigail Krause, a friend of Natalie’s, came out to help plant the garden because she saw the project as worthwhile for several reasons. “She needs her Silver Award, and I think it’s important for all of the animals in the community to have a place. We need to help out.”
The beautification will be apparent to people as they drive by the station, Ericson said. “I thought it was a very, very good project for the fire station for the aesthetics and the positive environmental impact it will have.”