Eastern Missouri Gold Award Girl Scout raises awareness on light pollution

ST. LOUIS – International Dark Sky Week is a week to switch off the lights in the evening to view the grandeur of the night sky.


However, due to light pollution, night sky watchers are not able to observe more than the brightest stars.



Ella Mackinson, a 2023 graduate of Lindbergh High School, decided to take action to educate her community on light pollution effects and encourage them to practice mindful lighting practices.


After learning how light pollution negatively affects bird migration, biodiversity, and even human health issues, among other impacts, Mackinson partnered with DarkSky Missouri to develop an educational brochure to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award. The brochure covers what light pollution is, why it matters, and what we can do to minimize its effects.


Once she completed her brochure, Mackinson hosted booths at local community events, including the Earth Day Festival, Owl-o-Ween at World Bird Sanctuary, the Astronomy Festival, and others.


Mackinson’s tailored presentations, including fun activities and a prize wheel for the attending children, had a significant impact on the audience’s understanding of light pollution. Mackinson then shared copies of her brochures to several organizations: Lights Out Heartland and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium at the Saint Louis Science Center. She also created a digital version of her brochure for the organizations to share online.


“I had never organized or carried out a project of this scale before so getting to do so was personally rewarding,” said Mackinson. “It’s really inspiring, and I feel this has made me realize I can make a difference with hard work, planning and the right mindset.”


The Girl Scout Gold Award – the highest award in Girl Scout – is earned by Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors, girls in 9th-12th grade, who dedicate more than 80 hours identifying a need in their community and providing lasting solutions to issues in their neighborhoods and beyond. Gold Award Girl Scouts truly are the world changers, rock stars, role models, and real-life heroes we all look up to.


To learn more about these projects and Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri Highest Awards, visit girlscoutsem.org/highestawards.


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