Working the front gate at this year's Adams County Fair will have new meaning for the Girl Scouts in Troop 5189.
The girls -- Shea Beatty, Emma Heck, Kailyn Mast, Amanda and Krista Schrader and Grace Zanger -- rebuilt and landscaped the entrance as a community service project.
The project replaced the carport at the main gate with a 12-by-20-foot concrete stamped pad with a new structure on top "that looks like a cross between a bridge and a barn, then totally landscaped around it," troop leader Tonya Beatty said.
Their dedication to the project was more than enough to earn them the Silver Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Girls in grades 6-8 work individually or in a small group to finish a leadership journey and a "take action" project to make their world a better place.
The work was more involved than the girls expected, but with the start of the fair less than a week away, they can't wait to show off the new entrance.
"I can't even pass by without thinking, ‘Wow,'" Grace said.
Beatty said she couldn't be prouder of the girls that have been together since first grade.
"It was 100 percent their idea," she said. "They knew what they wanted, and they went after it."
All the girls enjoy going to the fair each year, so doing a project at the fairgrounds was an easy choice. They saw a need for improvements at the main entrance and developed a plan.
"We changed some things along the way. We added stuff we thought would be better," Amanda said. "We had electric put in, lights and a fan and a bench."
Work on the project began in November with each girl setting a goal to raise $500 toward the project from area businesses and organizations. They also spent time rolling in dough, selling 240 dozen cinnamon rolls as a fundraiser.
They worked more than 100 hours each working on it, and they raised more than $9,000 while finding out "they were able to do more than they thought," Beatty said.
Improving the entrance was a long-time goal for the fair board, but limited funds didn't stretch far enough.
"They were willing to go the extra mile to make the project happen," Fair Board member Leon Obert said. "I'm hoping someday they can walk their kids and grandkids through that entrance. It's very well done."
The building and landscaping were done in May and June, with a ribbon cutting held July 13.
"We all did our share, and we all have fun doing it," Grace said. "We spent time laughing at each other and talking while building the whole project."
The girls are quick to share the credit, thanking their families for pitching in to help and the community for its support.
"At first we thought it was overwhelming, but when we asked people to donate stuff, they were so nice to us," Amanda said.
"People really like it when you offer time to them," Krista said. "It's nice to give back to the community."
Along the way, they learned important lessons.
"Without teamwork, our project would not be accomplished," Amanda said.
"It taught us how to use a tool without having to hurt ourselves," Grace said. "It has taught us a lot of competence about how to speak out in public, given us a lot of confidence."
They hope the project teaches other young people what they can do.
"Maybe they'll come up with an idea for the fair or something similar for a different fair," Amanda said.
The girls offer a good example to follow.
"Since we've been together as a troop, they have accomplished things I never imagined we would accomplish," Beatty said. "They always set some kind of goal for themselves, then go above and beyond. I'm thrilled with the experiences we had a group. It's been a really great journey."