Young Girl Scout Troop Members Save Forest, Inspire 30 x 30 Efforts

Annapolis, MD – Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn issued this statement recognizing young teenage Girl Scout troop members whose advocacy efforts led to the conservation of 537 acres of the 633-acre East Marlton forest in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The property, previously owned by the Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital, was under threat of development but will now be added to the Charles Branch Stream Valley Park. Nethra Purushothaman, who was 14 years old when she worked with fellow troop members to meet with Girl Scout officials and launch a petition to save the forest, received the 2023 Champions of the Chesapeake award, Chesapeake Conservancy’s highest honor.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn (center) with Girl Scouts
Photo Credit: Prince George’s County

“Earlier this week, scientists announced that our planet is dangerously close to the critical climate threshold and confirmed that 2023 was the Earth’s hottest year on record. Such headlines can feel overwhelming as we face the climate crisis, but we can find inspiration in stories such as that of Nethra Purushothaman and her fellow Girl Scout troop members.

“When these girls learned that a cherished forest was under threat of development, they challenged the adults making those decisions to reconsider. They weren’t afraid, and they didn’t take no for an answer. These young environmental heroes were ultimately successful; now, 537 acres of the 633-acre forest are permanently protected.

“Their story proves that with courage, we can do hard things. If a small group of young teenagers can save a forest, there is hope globally we can conserve 30% of Earth’s lands and waters to protect the planet’s biodiversity.

“Chesapeake Conservancy is grateful to Nethra and her fellow troop members, Maryland’s Board of Public Works, Prince George’s County, Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital and all those who joined us in believing in these young girls.

“We hope this outcome will serve as a model for the many Girl Scout and Boy Scout camps and lands across the Chesapeake watershed and across the country that are under the continued threat of sale and development. Funds from these conservation projects can be used to fund Scout programming needed for the next generation of society to develop into the leaders of tomorrow and connect with the natural world.”