Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 59

She founded her own troop

For the Love of Night Skies
Former Girl Scout Lora Callahan spent 120 hours leading an effort to make James River State
Park Virginia's second International Dark Sky Park. It became such last spring.
By ERIC J. WALLACE | Photo by NICKI AHRENS

L

ynchburg, Virginia, native Lora Callahan
was in fourth grade and looking for a hobby. She enjoyed running but wasn't attracted to competition or team sports. Nor was she
artistically inclined. Ballet and dance proved
misses as well. What to do?
Her mom, Valerie, was a former Girl
Scout. Considering Lora's love of playing
outside and habit of taking on household projects, Mom suggested joining an area troop. When the search
turned up nada, Lora declared, "Let's
make one of our own!"
Founding Troop #217 was Lora's
first big project. With its success she
found a calling: Lora became deeply
invested in the group and helped
lead meetings; she worked hard
to plan projects and outings.
Friends were made, badges
earned. By middle school she
was a volunteer counselor
for affiliated summer camps
at Bedford County's Camp
Sacajawea.
As a high school freshman,
Lora joined four girls in representing Virginia at the 2014
National Girl Scout Convention in Utah. There she met
ambitious scouts from most
U.S. states and enrolled in the
prestigious Leadership Institute
for high-school-aged Scouts.

The program is requisite for earning a Gold
Award-the organization's highest honor. It
entails completing an 80-plus-hour project
that, according to the Girl Scouts website,
"takes steps to develop lasting solutions to
some of the most challenging problems facing
our world today." Just 5.4 % of eligible Scouts
earn the distinction. It is touted as the "most
prestigious award in the world for girls (and
the most difficult to earn)."
At the convention, recipients presented synopses of projects ranging from efforts to curb
human trafficking, cut plastic waste in oceans,
expand STEM opportunities for girls in underserved communities and more.
"I wanted to make it up on that stage," says
the now 19-year-old Lora Callahan. Scouting
had hugely impacted her life; she would see
it through to the end-and in a big way. "I
wanted younger girls to look at me and see
what I did and feel inspired to do something
similar."
Callahan initially aimed to combat adult violence against teenaged girls. She found a new
direction after volunteering with the Virginia
State Park Youth Conservation Corps Program
in early 2015.
Participation meant four weeks in York River State Park working on "important conservation projects... in a setting that fosters learning,
teamwork, self-esteem, social responsibility
and environmental respect." The experience
led her to fall in love with environmental science, public land stewardship, and a lifestyle
of outdoor conservation.
Heading into summer her parents asked
about vacation. "I said, 'Can we go to a bunch
of state parks?'" Callahan recalls with a laugh.
The experience helped reorient her Gold Award
project.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020

59



Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020

Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 48
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2020 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/BRCSO21
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brcja21
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2021_0506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2021_0304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2021_0102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2020_11_12
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2020_0910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2020_0708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2020_0506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2020_0304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2020_0102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2019_1112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2019_0910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2019_0708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2019_0506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2019_0304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2019_0102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2018_1112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2018_0910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2018_0708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2018_0506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2018_0304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2018_0102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2017_1112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2017_0910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2017_0708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2017_0506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_2017_0304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20170102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_201612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20160910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20160708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20160506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20160304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20160102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20151112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20150910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20150708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20150506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20150304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20150102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20141112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20140910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20140708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20140506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20140304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20140102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20131112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20130910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/brc_20130708
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com