Susan Humphreys: 'It was fun when we were out there working'

Posted: Dec. 5, 2012 6:43 pm Updated: Dec. 20, 2012 2:23 pm

Girl Scout Leader Susan Humphreys' troop has all grown up, but she continues to keep their Scout project going.

For the troop's Silver Award project in 2004, the girls planted trees and bushes to beautify the old bridge approach in Hannibal, Mo. Two years later, Humphreys led four of those girls in completing the landscaping for their Gold Award.

"For the Silver and Gold award, you're supposed to find something you can do to benefit your community," Humphreys said. "So we looked around. ... The new bridge had been built and the old bridge approach was there and nothing had been done with it."

While the Scouts dedicated 75 hours each to the Gold Award landscaping project, Humphreys has dedicated countless hours since maintaining the garden area. Even though many of her Scouts have left Hannibal, she works to generate interest among other Girl Scout troops, Gold Award seekers and other members of the community. Humphreys has recruited the assistance of classes at the vocational school as well as her exercise class at the YMCA.

For Humphreys, it's important that the butterfly gardens, grass gardens, trees and shrubbery stay trimmed. She watched her troop blossom as the girls completed the project; now she watches other troops learn life skills and teamwork from that same project, too.

Why Susan volunteers, in her own words:

"What we've done is, well, it was kind of my baby. The Parks and Recreation Department really isn't staffed for someone to take care of those particular gardens. So we promised we'd do it for the first year, and the girls did. They did the whole year after that. Ever since then, I've either gotten a troop or a girl that would be in charge of it. Then I end up going and helping out too because I want to make sure that it does OK. Sometimes when you're a troop leader, everyone gets gung ho, and then summer comes and the only one there is the troop leader trying to do it with their daughter. So I'll try and help them out."

"Many other people in the community were involved. The girls had to go before the Parks and Rec Board. They had to make presentations to the city council to get permission for all of the things that they did. They had to make their plans. I had them have experts to talk to them and make sure that their plans were something that was viable. They had to purchase all of the things. The high school landscaping class helped because they actually did the tilling, which helped move the mulch around, which was huge. The vocational building and technical trades class helped build the rock beds that's in the center that you can see as you're driving."

"It was fun when we were out there working with the girls and tourists would come by, and tourists kept coming by and coming by. Because (the girls) grew up there, they don't understand the importance. They got to see how important Hannibal is to people of the world."

"It's something that they wanted to do. And so as the leader, it's supposed to be girl led, so when the girls want to, the leader goes with them gung-ho. So where I live, I drive by it all the time. You know, if it doesn't look good then it really bothers me. To me it's the entrance into Hannibal, and that really needs to look nice."

Susan Humphreys was interviewed by Staff Writer Maggie Menderski and photographed by Photo Editor Phil Carlson.