By Sarah Kuper
Maddie Hoaglund won’t be quite old enough to vote on Nov. 8, but she is doing her part to raise awareness about an amendment on the ballot.
As part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, the high school senior is holding an event Sept. 24 at Oak Mountain State Park to highlight issues behind Amendment 2.
The amendment concerns the reallocation of state park funds in Alabama. As an avid runner who enjoys nearby Oak Mountain State Park, Hoaglund said the cause is close to her heart.
A “yes” vote for Amendment 2 would mean the voter wants to prohibit the Legislature from reallocating state park funds for other uses.
From 2011-2015, the Alabama Legislature took nearly $15 million from the state parks fund and moved it to the general fund. In that time, several Alabama parks closed or restricted hours and activities because of budget shortfalls.
Hoaglund became aware of the upcoming vote about the same time she began to pursue the Gold Award – the highest achievement in the Girl Scout program.
To earn the Gold Award, Hoaglund needed to choose an issue she felt passionately about and then take action to make a difference.
That’s when her idea for “Love Your State Parks Day” was born.
Hoaglund is inviting people to come out to Oak Mountain State Park on Sept. 24 to enjoy all the park has to offer.
She said there will be hiking, running, mountain biking and, of course, information about Amendment 2.
“When you talk to people about it, it seems like everyone is for the amendment once they know, but there is just no publicity about it.”
Over the summer, Hoaglund sent out letters to partners of Oak Mountain State Park and other interested parties to drum up support for her project.
She said she got a lot of positive response and learned that one person can make a difference.
“It gets stressful but I’m learning the importance of initiative and follow through. I think that is a skill a lot of people are lacking nowadays.”
One requirement of a Gold Award project is to spend at least 80 hours planning and executing the event.
“I’m definitely spending my 80 hours. Over the summer it wasn’t so bad but now that school has started it is getting crazy,” said Hoaglund, a senior at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church’s Westminster School.
Hoaglund said she has grown even more passionate about local parks since planning “Love Your State Parks Day” and she’s learned the importance of taking action on behalf of the community.
“It’s helped me with awareness about what is going on in my community. I started inside my immediate community with Oak Mountain Park and worked my way out.”
Hoaglund has not yet begun the college application process but she said she knows she would like to run competitively in college and pursue a degree in the classics.
She has two younger sisters, both of whom are involved with the Girl Scouts and will soon be working toward their own Gold Awards.